President Obama had time to enjoy late night laughs with David Letterman while refusing to meet with America's Middle East ally, and yet CNN's Wolf Blitzer was just fine with that. It pays for a President to have friends in the media.
"In the scheme of things, who is going to get you more votes?" was Blitzer's excuse. "A meeting that could be tense with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or go on Letterman and come across as well as he did last night?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Meanwhile, when Mitt Romney appeared on Kelly Ripa's daytime talk show last week, CNN juxtaposed that frivolity with Obama's solemn tribute to slain diplomats. However, CNN had honeyed words for the President's Letterman performance.
"You know I think what's clear is that he really came across very smooth, very confident, very presidential with Letterman in that interview last night. He was really at the top of his game," Blitzer cooed. "I loved that. I loved it," gushed Banfield after a clip of the interview played.
Many Americans would want to know why the President refused to meet with the Prime Minister of America's ally in the Middle East during a time of turmoil in the region. Blitzer wouldn't push ahead with that question, however.
CNN has softened its scrutiny of Obama's foreign policy before. Anchor Anderson Cooper chose to lead his Monday show with campaign tape of Mitt Romney instead of a report that the U.S. may have had advance notice on deadly terror attacks in Libya.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on September 19 on CNN Newsroom at 11:35 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
WOLF BLITZER, host, The Situation Room: If you take a look at the internal numbers in these polls, it shows that they're are encouraging for Obama, at least right now in terms of right track, wrong track, higher numbers and right track than a month or two ago for the President. And as far as handling the economy, right now, Obama is, in this new NBC poll, right with Romney on who would better handle the economy, that's encouraging for Obama because, in the past, Romney has done better in those kinds of internal numbers. So right now the numbers look pretty good for Obama, but it's still a long way to go. Anything can still happen.
BANFIELD: And these polls were taken, I should note, before this latest political hot-button issue arose, the surreptitious video that was taken of Governor Romney at a private event, talking about the 47 percent of Americans who he says are in the column for President Obama. He actually referred to that. President Obama showed up on Late Night with David Letterman last night and actually answered to this. Let's have a listen.
President BARACK OBAMA: One of the things I have learned as President is you represent the entire country. And when I meet Republicans as I'm traveling around the country, they are hardworking family people who care deeply about this country. And my expectation is that if you want to be President, you have got to work for everybody and not just for some.
(End Video Clip)
BANFIELD: You know, Wolf, Vice President Biden really skirted this issue and said, I'm going to let the tape speak for itself, and he didn't really weigh in on it. Did you feel like this was President Obama getting tough, not getting tough enough? Is he leaving it for the super PACs?
BLITZER: You know I think what's clear is that he really came across very smooth, very confident, very presidential with Letterman in that interview last night. He was really at the top of his game. It really explained to me why he likes going on Letterman, some of these other shows, because he comes across very genuine, and as I said very presidential. He doesn't have to go after Romney directly and brutally. He has got others who are going to do that, other surrogates certainly in his campaign, who support him. He can take the high road, which is probably pretty smart at this stage, especially when you are up a little bit in the polls. He doesn't really have to get down into that fight directly with Romney. And as I said, he is going to have three debates in which he can show his stuff. Romney is a good debater as well, so I am looking forward to those.
BANFIELD: Well, and the campaign has certainly come out with some ads showing people outraged by that surrepetious video. So certainly, as you say, the surrogates and the campaign are not letting that one go.
BLITZER: But I want to get to the lighter side, and there's a reason that I want to get to the lighter side. We saw Mitt Romney showing on the old Kelly and Regis show, now called, I think, Kelly and Michael? Live With Kelly and Michael? And now we've seen President Obama on Letterman. And he did get to the light topic, too. I want to play a clip of it and ask you something serious about. Have a listen.
DAVID LETTERMAN, host, The Late Show With David Letterman: You look great.
OBAMA: I feel good.
LETTERMAN: How much do you weigh?
OBAMA: You know --
OBAMA: -- about 180.
LETTERMAN: 180 looks good on you.
OBAMA: Thank you.
LETTERMAN: Because that's just about where I am, and I don't look so good at 180.
OBAMA: You look sharp.
LETTERMAN: You haven't seen me naked.
OBAMA: We're going to keep it that way.
(End Video Clip)
BANFIELD: I loved that. I loved it. And I want to ask you a serious question about funny stuff. Are these appearances on the light-hearted shows with the light-hearted folks as important as some of the serious stuff out in the campaign? Because a lot of people watch late night TV who don't watch news.
BLITZER: Especially for the undecided. And remember, you know, we're talking about maybe eight or 10 percent of the voters out there, not nationally in those battleground states because New York is going to go Democratic, California is going to go Democratic, Texas is going to go Republican. We are talking about a few battleground states where the undecideds will make the final decision. And one of things -- it's obvious – obviously they want substance and all of that, but they also want somebody they like, feel comfortable with. And when Romney appears on one of these shows or Obama appears on one of these shows, they almost always come across smooth and nice and friendly, and that's what people want to see and that's why they are doing it.
Remember, the other day, I think it was Michele Bachmann who was criticizing President Obama, Ashleigh, for saying Obama can go to New York -- he can go to New York and he has time for Letterman, but he does not have time for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel. In the scheme of things, who is going to get you more votes? A meeting that could be tense with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or go on Letterman and come across as well as he did last night? I think the answer is pretty clear.