CBS Harps on Newt's 'Baggage'; Cain Only Has 'Die-Hard' Support Left

CBS's Jan Crawford played up Newt Gingrich's "baggage" on Friday's Early Show, underlining how the Republican presidential candidate is "going to be hit hard for his ties to corporate interests, the ethics allegations...even his personal relationships- his adulterous affairs." Crawford also spotlighted the claim that only Herman Cain's "die-hard supporters...think that he can stay in this race."

The correspondent first reported on the allegation that Cain had a 13-year affair with Ginger White and how the candidate recently admitted to helping White financially. Crawford shifted to Gingrich by stating that "in a crowded field, that could help candidates like Newt Gingrich, who continues to surge ahead." She then used her "baggage" term, and highlighted a "scathing new ad" from GOP competitor Ron Paul, which targeted Newt.

After playing a clip from the Paul ad, the CBS journalist specified how the other Republican candidates in general are going to attack Gingrich:

CRAWFORD: Now, Gingrich is going to be hit hard for his ties to corporate interests, the ethics allegations, and charges he faced when he was Speaker of the House- you know, even his personal relationships- his adulterous affairs. So this ad just shows what he's got to face in the weeks ahead, and his opponents are ready to attack, to start eroding that frontrunner status.

Anchor Erica Hill followed up by going back to the Cain story and asked Crawford, "When it comes to Herman Cain, what's the thinking as to whether or not he can survive this and continue on with the campaign, because he's saying he's not done yet?"

The correspondent  included her "die hard" label in her answer:

CRAWFORD: Well, even his- only really his die-hard supporters, his campaign staff, think that he can stay in this race. Everybody else is saying they believe he is done. But people close to Cain say they think he's leaning against quitting. He's got enough money to get him through the Iowa caucuses, which are just a month from now. Of course, though, Erica, all of that could change when he sits down with his wife later tonight and re-thinks this thing

It should be pointed out that The Early Show has yet to mention White's past legal issues, something that fellow Big Three networks ABC and NBC did on their morning shows on Tuesday.

The full transcript of Jan Crawford's report from Friday's Early Show:

JEFF GLOR: Meanwhile, in the Republican presidential race, there is- appears to be more trouble for Herman Cain- new revelations surrounding his alleged affair with an Atlanta businesswoman.

ERICA HILL: Political correspondent Jan Crawford is in Nashville this morning with the very latest for us. Jan, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "New Cain Revelations: Candidate Says Wife Didn't Know About Friend"]

Jan Crawford, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgJAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. Herman Cain told a New Hampshire newspaper that quitting is an option, and he made some admissions about his relationship with Ginger White, that indicate why it might be hard for him to stay in the race.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): It was his most candid interview yet on the alleged 13-year affair, and Cain admitted he helped Ginger White financially.

HERMAN CAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from interview with "The Union Leader"): She didn't have a job. She had told me that she was not able to get financial help from family and friends. And that, quite frankly, I was the only person that was a friend at the time- and I underscore friend- that was in a position to help her.

CRAWFORD: Cain also revealed his wife knew nothing about his friendship with White.

CAIN: That was the revelation and the surprise that my wife found out about it when she went public with it.

CRAWFORD: Cain has continued with his campaign and has been warmly received by crowds. He spoke to college students last night at Middle Tennessee State University, and was heckled by a handful of Occupy Wall Street protesters. (clip of protesters shouting, "We are the 99%!")

CAIN: Don't be embarrassed that those young people wanted to stand up and talk about that they're part of the nine-nine- the 99%. We have freedom of speech. Some people simply abuse it.

CRAWFORD: Cain heads home to Atlanta today to talk with his wife and family about whether he should stay in the race. He told the paper he has not ruled out quitting. In a crowded field, that could help candidates like Newt Gingrich, who continues to surge ahead.

NEWT GINGRICH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from interview with ABC News): It's very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I'm going to be the nominee.

CRAWFORD: But Gingrich has baggage, and now that he's a frontrunner, will face scrutiny. A scathing new ad by Texas Congressman Ron Paul shows opponents have a lot of ground for attack.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 (on camera. from Ron Paul 2012 campaign ad): He's flipped and flopped based on who's paying him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (voice-over): He is demonstrating himself to be the very essence of the Washington insider.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: It's about serial hypocrisy.

CRAWFORD (live): Now, Gingrich is going to be hit hard for his ties to corporate interests, the ethics allegations, and charges he faced when he was Speaker of the House- you know, even his personal relationships- his adulterous affairs. So this ad just shows what he's got to face in the weeks ahead, and his opponents are ready to attack, to start eroding that frontrunner status. Jeff, Erica?

HILL: They do face intense scrutiny- any frontrunner- frankly, anybody who is running for office. When it comes to Herman Cain, what's the thinking as to whether or not he can survive this and continue on with the campaign, because he's saying he's not done yet?

CRAWFORD: Well, even his- only really his die-hard supporters, his campaign staff, think that he can stay in this race. Everybody else is saying they believe he is done. But people close to Cain say they think he's leaning against quitting. He's got enough money to get him through the Iowa caucuses, which are just a month from now. Of course, though, Erica, all of that could change when he sits down with his wife later tonight and re-thinks this thing.

HILL: Yeah, big meeting coming up there- real quickly, I want to ask you about Rick Perry, who's still in the race. We saw him at the top. We saw his support erode a little bit. But he's trying to use a little bit more humor these days, it seems, right?

CRAWFORD: Well, that's true, and some of his advisers and people close to him say that's his strategy. He's made a number of stumbles. Remember in the debate, when he had that pause and he couldn't come up with a third federal agency that he wanted to quit. So he's got an ad out kind of poking fun of himself, saying I'm not a slick debater, I'm an outsider. That's all part of the strategy trying to rehabilitate him. He was a frontrunner- he's now around fifth place. He's got a long way to go to make up that ground. This is the first part of it. After these ads come out showing kind of the softer, folksier side of Rick Perry, they're going to make a turn in the next couple of weeks and start going after their opponents and their opponents' weaknesses, all with an eye on those Iowa caucuses that are just now just a month away- little over a month away.

HILL: But who's counting, right? (laughs) Jan Crawford in Nashville this morning- Jan, thanks.

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