Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell badgered former RNC head Haley Barbour on Thursday's CBS This Morning on Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock's strongly pro-life stance, that even children conceived in rape are "God intended." Rose strongly hinted that the media firestorm surrounding Mourdock could affect the presidential race: "Romney may be gaining support among women. And the question arises, could this Mourdock controversy impact that?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
The CBS morning newscast stood out among its Big Three peers in significantly adding to the more than seven and half minutes of coverage from the previous day. The network devoted three minutes, 6 seconds to Mourdock, which is nearly three times the one minutes and 7 seconds that ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today set aside to the story combined.
Out of the gate, Rose asked his "impact" question. Barbour initially replied by sidestepping the issue: "Well, look, people in the United States are focused on jobs and the economy, whether men or women, because that's what's affected their daily lives....they know that the huge deficits - over $5 trillion added to the debt under Obama - has made it harder to grow the economy in the United States, and made the future much less bright for America. So, it doesn't surprise me that women are just as focused on the economic security of their families as men are."
Unsurprisingly, O'Donnell, who has a record of grilling Republican/conservative guests, pressed the issue: "But Governor, do you think, as Senator [John] McCain suggested, that Mourdock should apologize for his comments?"
The former Mississippi governor answered by going further than the Romney campaign's own statement on the controversy: "Well, I don't agree with what he said. I thought that what he said was kind of crazy. But, having said that, this election for president is not about that. This election for president is about Obama's failed economic record...That's what families, Norah, are talking about at the kitchen table. They're not talking about some guy who's secretary of state from Indiana."
Rose, who has also hounded right-of-center interviewees on CBS This Morning, then pounced at Barbour's strong reply: "But, Governor, if you think it was crazy, shouldn't he be in a position to consider apologizing to set the record straight?" The former RNC chairman retorted with a critique of the media: "Well, look, he's got to decide that....But I can tell you, Barack Obama loves it when CBS News or CNN or Fox News is talking about what some guy running for senator said, instead of what the American people are really concerned about, because the more this election is about the economy and jobs, the worse Obama does."
For the remainder of the interview, O'Donnell twice pressed her guest on the Obama campaign's supposedly stronger ground game in Ohio:
O'DONNELL: The President has a two-to-one advantage when it comes to those who voted early. Are you concerned that Republicans may have been out-organized on the ground?....we just showed a graphic that shows that – The Atlantic magazine, that Obama and their campaign has three times as many field offices in Ohio as Mitt Romney, and also, in Florida and in Virginia. How do the Republicans counter that? And I know the Republican National Committee, which you once headed, is – has great practice at a ground game. But how are they being out-manned, out-officed, if you will, by the Democrats?
Prior to the Barbour interview, Nancy Cordes spotlighted how the incumbent Democrat's mauling of Mourdock during an appearance on NBC's Tonight Show:
NANCY CORDES: ...He [Obama] did make a quick detour to appear on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' last night, where he addressed the remarks made by the Indiana Republican running for Senate, who said that babies born of rape are part of God's plan.
JAY LENO: This seems like we're back to Todd Akin time again.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I – I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition: rape is rape. It is a crime. (audience applauds)
CORDES (voice-over): The President was reacting to comments made by Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his Senate debate Tuesday night.
RICHARD MOURDOCK, (R), INDIANA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
CORDES: Governor Romney has released a statement, saying he disagrees with Mourdock, though he did not pull his endorsement of him....
The full transcript of the Haley Barbour interview on Thursday's CBS This Morning can be found at MRC.org.