CBS Local Political Reporters: Obama Faces 'Major Uphill Battle'

Two out of three CBS local affiliate political reporters featured on Thursday's Early Show bluntly stated that President Obama faces "major uphill battle" in recapturing key states for the 2012 election. Anchor Chris Wragge noted the "all-time low" approval rating for the President, while an Ohio journalist highlighted how a Democratic strategist thought Obama was "feeling more Carter than Clinton."

Wragge turned to David Crabtree of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina; Jim Heath of CBS affiliate WBNS in Columbus, Ohio; and Sam Brock from WTVR in Richmond, Virginia for their takes on the President's recent stops in their states following his jobs bill speech to Congress earlier in September. Crabtree reported on the positive reaction from those who attended Mr. Obama's speech in North Carolina, but then outlined that the Democrat faces several challenges in the months ahead:

DAVID CRABTREE, POLITICAL REPORTER, WRAL-TV: ...[T]he President has a major uphill battle in this state, trying to convince voters to convince their Republican members of Congress to vote for this jobs bill. Right now, the lines appear to be drawn, with the Republicans saying they are not going to do that. So, while it was received well in this campaign here stop in North Carolina, there's still a lot more work to be done for the President to recapture this state. He did win four years ago by 14,000 votes. But his disapproval rating in North Carolina today is at least at 53%. He's got a lot more work to be done.

The CBS anchor then turned to Heath and asked, "What are the independent voters telling you about the President's visit there?" Heath detailed a more stark picture of the situation on the ground for the chief executive in the Buckeye State, even making a slight reference to the "hope and change" slogan from the 2008 campaign:

HEATH: Chris, the first thing I noticed: the last time the President was in Ohio- he was at the Ohio State University- 30,000 people were there- this week, 3,000. So, the mood, everything seems to be a little bit different, as we head into 2012.

I spoke to some unemployed folks right after his speech, and one young lady, in particular...said that she had strongly supported the President in 2008, still liked him as a person, but she made the comment, after three years, you can't promise people jobs and not deliver. So, she's about to give up hope.

The economy, as always in the swing state of Ohio, is going to be key, Chris. And I had one Democratic strategist tell me a few weeks ago that the third year of the Obama administration is feeling more Carter than Clinton. If that holds throughout 2012, it'd be very difficult for any incumbent, regardless of party, to win swing state Ohio.

Brock gave a slightly positive take on Obama's overall prospects in Virginia, stating that "for Mr. Obama, this has been his third trip to central Virginia in just the last year, the second time he's been to Richmond....he went to the University of Richmond- and this is interesting- because the University of Richmond is...an elite private institution. Mr. Obama could have gone the route of the main big city school in downtown Richmond. He bypassed that, and he still had a very positive reception at the University of Richmond."

The full transcript of the segment from Thursday's Early Show, which began four minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:

CHRIS WRAGGE: In the past week, President Obama has given five speeches in three states, pushing Congress to pass his jobs bill. At a dinner last night in Washington, the President once again sang the praises of his $447 billion package.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from speech to the National Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute): A jobs bill that puts Americans back to work, a balanced approach to pay for it that will lower our deficit in the long run- these are the steps Congress needs to take right now, to put our country on a stronger footing.

David Crabtree, WRAL-TV Political Reporter; Jim Heath, WBNS-TV Political Reporter; & Sam Brock, WTVR-TV Political Reporter | NewsBusters.org WRAGGE: But getting it through Congress looks to be uphill battle. And meanwhile, according to a new Bloomberg News national poll, the President's job approval rating is at 45%, an all-time low.

So, this morning, we're asking political reporters from the three states he's visited, what do the voters think of the President's jobs plan. We'll begin with veteran political reporter David Crabtree from our Raleigh, North Carolina affiliate, WRAL-TV. David, good morning. What's the reaction to yesterday's speech there?

DAVID CRABTREE, POLITICAL REPORTER, WRAL-TV: Chris, good morning to you. The reaction to the speech was positive by those who were there. These are people who had waited in line for two and a half hours, just to get tickets to the event; waited in line another two hours to get inside; and then, two more hours to hear the President's speech. It was his crowd.

However, beyond that, the President has a major uphill battle in this state, trying to convince voters to convince their Republican members of Congress to vote for this jobs bill. Right now, the lines appear to be drawn, with the Republicans saying they are not going to do that. So, while it was received well in this campaign here stop in North Carolina, there's still a lot more work to be done for the President to recapture this state. He did win four years ago by 14,000 votes. But his disapproval rating in North Carolina today is at least at 53%. He's got a lot more work to be done. Chris?

WRAGGE: All right. David Crabtree in Raleigh for us- David, thank you very much. Now, let's go to Jim Heath of our Columbus, Ohio affiliate, WBNS and ONN-TV. Jim, what are the independent voters telling you about the President's visit there?

JIM HEATH, POLITICAL REPORTER, WBNS-TV/ONN-TV: Chris, the first thing I noticed: the last time the President was in Ohio- he was at the Ohio State University- 30,000 people were there- this week, 3,000. So, the mood, everything seems to be a little bit different, as we head into 2012.

I spoke to some unemployed folks right after his speech, and one young lady, in particular- very interesting. She said that she had strongly supported the President in 2008, still liked him as a person, but she made the comment, after three years, you can't promise people jobs and not deliver. So, she's about to give up hope.

The economy, as always in the swing state of Ohio, is going to be key, Chris. And I had one Democratic strategist tell me a few weeks ago that the third year of the Obama administration is feeling more Carter than Clinton. If that holds throughout 2012, it'd be very difficult for any incumbent, regardless of party, to win swing state Ohio.

WRAGGE: All right. Jim Heath in Columbus, Ohio- Jim, thank you. Two down, one more to go- let's go to Sam Brock at CBS affiliate WTVR in Richmond, Virginia, where President Obama made his first trip after his jobs speech to Congress a week ago. Sam, good morning. Now, why is Virginia so important to the President right now?


SAM BROCK, POLITICAL REPORTER, WTVR: Chris, good morning. This is a state that has voted for the Republican candidate for 40 years- that is, until 2008. So if there is any question, any shred of doubt, as to how important Virginia is, look no further than the last few days. President Obama came to the University of Richmond, spoke about his jobs speech on Friday. And, not to be outdone, Texas Governor Rick Perry, the GOP front-runner, came out yesterday and he campaigned with his buddy, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Now, for Mr. Obama, this has been his third trip to central Virginia in just the last year, the second time he's been to Richmond. This past visit, he targeted the district of Congressman Eric Cantor, the majority leader. So possibly, a counter-punch there for Mr. Obama. Now, as far as where he spoke, he went to the University of Richmond- and this is interesting- because the University of Richmond is located in an affluent community. It is an elite private institution. Mr. Obama could have gone the route of the main big city school in downtown Richmond. He bypassed that, and he still had a very positive reception at the University of Richmond.

WRAGGE: All right. Sam Brock in Richmond for us this morning- Sam, thank you very much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center