Only CBS's Crawford Notes Obama 'Spurred Similar Controversy' With His 'Cling to Guns and Religion' Line

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford stood out as the only Big Three network journalist to play a clip of Barack Obama's infamous "cling to guns and religion" barb at conservatives, as she covered the recently-released secret recordings of Mitt Romney remarking about the "47 percent of the country who are dependent on government."

Crawford remarked that Obama "spurred similar controversy" with the 2008 comment, but neither ABC's Good Morning America nor NBC's Today mentioned it in their coverage of the Romney video recordings, which were released by the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. [audio of Crawford available here; video below the jump]

In his lead-in for the correspondent's report, anchor Charlie Rose trumpeted the "new headache for Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign," echoing ABC's "bombshell" label of the story on GMA. Crawford herself stated that "this video, which was secretly filmed at a Romney fundraiser, is proving to be a big distraction in a very tight presidential race."


The CBS journalist played Obama's "cling to guns and religion" line during the second half of her report, after playing an extended clip from the Mother Jones recording and two sound bites from Romney's press conference reacting to the release. She repeated her "distraction" label near the end of the segment: "Now, of course, all of this is coming as Romney is trying to talk about jobs. That was a point he was making here in Los Angeles at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, when he spoke to that group yesterday. This is a distraction now for him."

The full transcript of Jan Crawford's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: We begin with the new headache for Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. In an online video, Romney says President Obama's base of voters believe they are victims who are entitled to government help, and he said, as a candidate, he's not worried about them.

NORAH O'DONNELL: The Obama campaign jumped on the statement, calling it shocking. This morning, Romney says the wording was bad, but not the message.

Jan Crawford is covering the Romney campaign, and is in Los Angeles this morning. Jan, good morning.

[CBS News Graphic: "Damage Control: Romney Clarifies Remarks About '47%' Of Americans"]

Jan Crawford, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgJAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning, Norah. Good morning, Charlie. This was a week when Romney was really trying to get his campaign back on message. His main message: jobs and the economy - and instead, this video, which was secretly filmed at a Romney fundraiser, is proving to be a big distraction in a very tight presidential race.

ROMNEY (from press conference): It's not elegantly stated - let me put it that way. I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question, and I'm sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that.

CRAWFORD (voice-over): Romney appeared late Monday at a hastily-arranged news conference, addressing a video that surfaced of him earlier in the year at a fundraiser. At the event last May, Romney was making the point that nearly half of all Americans pay no federal income tax, and he characterized them as Obama's supporters, who are are dependent on federal programs.

ROMNEY (from Mother Jones audio recording): There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they're victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to - you name it. And they will vote for this president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax.

CRAWFORD: Romney stood by those remarks last night. He said people who don't pay income tax are not likely to be attracted to his message of lower taxes, so his campaign isn't focusing on them.


ROMNEY (from press conference): I'm talking about the political process of drawing people into my campaign. My campaign is about helping people take more responsibility.

CRAWFORD: The Obama campaign blasted the Romney video in a statement, and sent a fundraising e-mail to supporters, saying, 'The man who spoke these words -- who demonstrates such disgust and disdain for half of our fellow Americans -- is the other side's choice for president of the United States. He wants to lead our country.'

In 2008, then-candidate Obama spurred similar controversy when he was caught on tape at a fundraiser making these comments about conservative voters.

BARACK OBAMA (from audio recording at April 6, 2008 fundraiser in San Francisco): It's not surprising then that they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them.

CRAWFORD (on-camera): Now, of course, all of this is coming as Romney is trying to talk about jobs. That was a point he was making here in Los Angeles at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, when he spoke to that group yesterday. This is a distraction now for him. He heads off today to Utah and Texas. He's just got fundraisers there. Norah and Charlie?

ROSE: Jan, just how troubled are they by this?

CRAWFORD: Oh, they think this is unfortunate - not so much his underlying point, which doesn't really contradict his campaign message, but the way he said it. But there's no plans now to really back off this, to issue an apology, because it does, kind of, square with a lot of romney's message, which is that the president has a campaign that wants more government - big government - and that people are becoming more dependent on government under president obama. That's Romney's message. So, what he said in that fundraiser isn't really at odds with that. But, as he said, it was the way it was phrased.

CRAWFORD: Thank you, Jan. Thank you.

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