Free Publicity for Democratic Challengers to Tea Party on CBS

Thursday's Early Show on CBS provided free air time to Rep. Steve Israel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and three of his top candidates for the 2012 election. Correspondent Nancy Cordes trumpeted how the Democratic Party is "determined to bounce back from their big losses" to Republicans during the 2010 cycle and highlighted that the three were "running against Tea Party members."

Anchor Chris Wragge teased Cordes's report by touting how Democrats were "finding their own outsiders to run against the Washington status quo. We're going to talk to some of those new recruits, including a former astronaut and a former police chief, who they say with Congress more unpopular than ever, they've got a good chance to make the kind of change in Washington that they feel Washington needs."


The correspondent added at the beginning of the segment that "Democrats are taking a page from the Republicans in 2010 in trying to recruit as many outsider candidates as possible who have never served in politics. They brought more than a hundred of them here to Washington this week to show they're determined to bounce back from their big losses." After briefly mentioning the "part pep talk, part show of strength" candidates' seminar, Cordes spent the bulk of her report highlighting Val Demings, the former police chief of Orlando, Forida; former astronaut Jose Hernandez; and Ann Kirkpatrick, who isn't even an "outsider," but a former three-term representative from Arizona who lost in 2010.

All three of these candidates were spotlighted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just two weeks ago, as MSNBC's First Read blog reported on October 13. Cordes played a clip from DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel at the beginning of her report, but didn't mention his leadership position.

Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, (D), Arizona; Former Astronaut Jose Hernandez; Former Orlando, Florida Police Chief Val Demings; & Nancy Cordes, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgThe CBS journalist didn't air any sound bites from Republicans during her report, and only asked the three candidates a couple of  hardball questions near the end of the segment: "How will you deal with the fact that the President is unpopular right now in some parts of the country? Will you invite him to campaign for you?" She added that "Republicans say they've got just as many of their own candidates waiting in the wings...They also point out that Democrats may not be doing these- quote/unquote- outsider candidates any favors...by bringing them here to Washington when Washington is so unpopular."

Back in September, Cordes filed a report on congressional reaction to President Obama's proposed jobs bill, but failed to include clips from GOP representatives.

The transcript of Nancy Cordes's report from Thursday's Early Show, which aired 19 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour:

CHRIS WRAGGE: In last year's elections, Republicans took over the House of Representatives with a lot of help from Tea Party members who promised to change Washington. Well, today, polls show Americans are more fed up with Congress than ever, and Democrats now see an opportunity.

CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill with more for us this morning. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning to you, Chris. Yes, Democrats are taking a page from the Republicans in 2010 in trying to recruit as many outsider candidates as possible who have never served in politics. They brought more than a hundred of them here to Washington this week to show they're determined to bounce back from their big losses.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Democrats' Growing Hope To Re-Take House"]

CORDES (voice-over): It's part pep talk, part show of strength.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL, (D), NEW YORK: You want to be in the majority? (audience replies, "Yes!") We're going to do this.

CORDES: Democrats call them their top recruits in their bid to win the 25 seats they need to take back the House of Representatives- 107 candidates from 36 states. We sat down with three of them, two of whom are new to politics.

CORDES (on-camera): You're all running against Tea Party members. They had all of the momentum in 2010. What makes you think it's going to be different this time?

VAL DEMINGS, (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: They may have had a lot of momentum, but they have forgotten their number one responsibility, and that's to put people above politics.

CORDES (voice-over): Val Demmings of Florida spent her life in law enforcement, and rose to become Orlando's first female police chief.

JOSE HERNANDEZ, (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think folks have gotten buyers' remorse.

CORDES: Jose Hernandez of California is an astronaut who flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2009.

HERNANDEZ: Most congressional folks are lawyers by trade and they're trained to litigate. I'm an engineer. I'm trained to solve problems.

CORDES: One candidate who wants back in is Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona. She served in Congress for six years, but was defeated last year when Republicans won 63 new seats.

CORDES (on-camera): What do you think the voters in your district were saying in 2010 when they elected your challenger?

ANN KIRKPATRICK, (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think they said we want something new in Congress- we're not getting exactly what we want. We are not not there yet. But they realize now that it's actually worse than it was.

CORDES (voice-over): Approval ratings for Congress sunk to a record low of 9% in the latest CBS News poll.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), CALIFORNIA (from speech on House floor): God bless you, Speaker Boehner. (audience cheers)

CORDES: Democrats hope the anti-incumbent mood that helped Republicans in 2010 will work in their favor in 2012.

CORDES (on-camera): How will you deal with the fact that the President is unpopular right now in some parts of the country? Will you invite him to campaign for you?


DEMINGS: Well, you know, the President has a tough job to do- number one. He's done some things very well. He probably could have done some things differently. But the President has to run his own race, and I have to run my own race in Florida.

CORDES (live): Republicans say they've got just as many of their own candidates waiting in the wings, and that they're focusing on those 27 or so districts where they think they could pick up even more seats from the Democrats this time around. They also point out that Democrats may not be doing these- quote/unquote- outsider candidates any favors, Chris, by bringing them here to Washington when Washington is so unpopular.

WRAGGE: CBS's Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill for us this morning- Nancy, thank you.

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