ChiTrib's Zuckman: Obama Success Story Just as Impressive as McCain POW Story

Tamron Hall with Jill Zuckman and Kevin Merida, MSNBC News Live | NewsBusters.orgDuring the noon hour of the July 8 "MSNBC News Live," host Tamron Hall discussed McCain's new TV ad with Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman and Washington Post’s Kevin Merida. The ad focused on McCain's time as a POW as demonstrative of his love of country and Hall questioned how Obama could compete with such a story.

Zuckman claimed:

Well, look, Senator McCain's got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that's something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.

So, the story of a man who never served in the military but was a community organizer and graduated from Harvard Law is "different" but just as impressive as the story of a man who was a prisoner of war, tortured by his Communist captors and refused special treatment in order to stay with his fellow servicemen in prison?

Earlier in the segment, Hall seemed a bit wary of McCain's portrayal of the 1960s and asked Merida if the ad might turn off baby boomers:

You've got these baby boomers out there who may not have been full blown hippies but did not agree with what was happening in Vietnam and now they may be Reagan Democrats, they may be independents. Could this turn them off from Senator McCain?

Merida's characterization of the time period was much more flattering than that in the McCain ad:

Well, you know, it’s very tricky, Tamron, because people have a lot of different impressions of the Sixties. I mean, clearly McCain is trying to show a contrast between the carefree lifestyles of the Sixties versus the patriotism of serving ones country but a lot of people remember the Sixties as an idealistic time. The Sixties of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King and making the nation better. It was the Sixties when the first man orbited the earth, John Glenn, first American. So you know there are a lot of different impressions of the Sixties. People, many people look on the Sixties with very fond memories

The transcript of the segment, which aired at 12:52 p.m. on July 8, follows:

TAMRON HALL, host: Welcome back to this Super Tuesday. John McCain’s campaign just released a new TV ad entitled "Love." Without mentioning his rivals name, the ad takes swipes at Barack Obama's message of hope while highlighting McCain’s service in Vietnam. Here’s a portion of the one minute spot that will be running in eleven battleground states.

[clip of McCain campaign ad]

HALL: Jill Zuckman is national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Kevin Merida is associate editor for the Washington Post. So Jill I’ll start off with you. Barack Obama was born in 1961 so he was not a part of the hippie love fest at least portrayed in that ad so if this is an attempt to tie him into the anti-war movement and some of the bad things of the Sixties, at least that Senator McCain might have observed, is that a far reach?

JILL ZUCKMAN, Chicago Tribune: It’s a little bit of a stereotype of Democrats frankly, Tamron. It’s just the idea that, oh, Democrats were off in San Francisco sharing lots of love with each other while Republicans were off in Vietnam fighting. But it’s a great way of kinda grabbing people and getting them to pay attention to the ad which provides some important biographical information about Senator McCain as well as a couple of slaps at Senator Obama for his beautiful words and his hope.

HALL: Now, Kevin, that’s what I wanted to follow up on Jill, what Jill touched upon in that you’ve got these baby boomers out there who may not have been full blown hippies but did not agree with what was happening in Vietnam and now they may be Reagan Democrats, they may be independents. Could this turn them off from Senator McCain?

KEVIN MERIDA, Washington Post: Well, you know, it’s very tricky, Tamron, because people have a lot of different impressions of the Sixties. I mean, clearly McCain is trying to show a contrast between the carefree lifestyles of the Sixties versus the patriotism of serving ones country but a lot of people remember the Sixties as an idealistic time. The Sixties of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King and making the nation better. It was the Sixties when the first man orbited the earth, John Glenn, first American. So you know there are a lot of different impressions of the Sixties. People, many people look on the Sixties with very fond memories.

HALL: Yeah, especially when you see those people kissing there, Jill, in that video. Is that you, Jill? Is that you in that video?

ZUCKMAN: Yeah, right. I’m not old enough, Tamron.

HALL: Okay, that’s true. That is true. But let me ask you though, it is powerful when you see Senator McCain and it highlights the sacrifice that he made during that time. For Senator Obama’s campaign, is there really any way to compete when you see those images in that ad?

ZUCKMAN: Well, look, Senator McCain’s got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that’s something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.

HALL: All right, well we’re all outta time for this hour. Thank you both for joining me. Kevin and Jill, thank you again.