John King on Friday went after Arizona Congressional candidate Ben Quayle, son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, for claiming in a campaign commercial that Barack Obama is the worst president in history.
In case you missed it, Quayle released an ad (embedded right) on Wednesday saying that as a result of Obama's policies, "my generation will inherit a weakened country."
As this has struck a nerve with Obama-loving media across the fruited plain, King asked his guest:
You're a Republican in a crowded 10-candidate Republican primary. So going after President Obama is not a surprise. But the worst president ever? He's been in office less than two years. Not Nixon, not Harding, not anybody else? Why Barack Obama?
After Quayle answered, King followed up by asking him about his postings to a "racy website, DirtyScottsdale.com" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JOHN KING, HOST: A congressional race in Arizona is suddenly getting national attention and quite a bit of it. Partly because of a campaign ad that's gone viral and partly because it's from a candidate with a famous name.
Ben Quayle, a Republican running in Arizona's third district, joins me now to go "One-on-One."
And Ben Quayle, I want to get to this ad. First tell our viewers, if they don't know, you're the son of the former vice president Dan Quayle. You're running for an open Republican seat in the Scottsdale-Phoenix area of Arizona. And the reason that you've generated such a national controversy is this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN QUAYLE (R), ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is the worst president in history. And my generation will inherit a weakened country. Drug cartels in Mexico, tax cartels in D.C.
What's happened to America?
I love Arizona. I was raised right. Somebody has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, you're a Republican in a crowded 10-candidate Republican primary. So going after President Obama is not a surprise. But the worst president ever? He's been in office less than two years. Not Nixon, not Harding, not anybody else? Why Barack Obama?
QUAYLE: Well, John, this is a claim that -- I've thought about long and hard. And it was something that I wasn't happy about. But President Obama, through his ideology and his policies, has fundamentally changed our country for the worst.
And I think that he's taken a country, which was admittedly in bad shape, but he has made it worse and his policies are actually going to affect future generations in a negative way. And the future that he has created for my generation and other generations is pretty terrifying.
It seems like right now he's starting to destroy the American dream.
KING: Now, because of what you're saying in this ad, which is quite provocative, and because of who you are, there are a number of -- shall we say -- parodies of your ad already popping up online. Some of them are just funny and some of them are pretty pointed and they go right after you.
I want you to listen to one of them from a standup comedian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why I want whatever job Ben Quayle had before he decided to run for Congress. I don't know what it was, but I know I'll be better at it than that schmuck.
I love America and I was raised right. By which I mean neither of my parents ever forgot how to spell potato.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A chance to respond. I want to ask as you do -- you're getting a lot of attention because of this. Some of it's not necessarily polite. But are you benefiting from it?
QUAYLE: Well, you know, John, having the last name of Quayle, we're used to being made fun of and has some parody and having things that aren't true being said about you. So, you know, it stings but you know that's the way that politics goes nowadays.
KING: And as you know, many of your rivals there and many people who've covered politics for a -- long time like myself say, well, why would he do this? And some people think you're trying to change the subject because you're in a bit of a dust-up of first saying no, that wasn't me, and then acknowledging that you had submitted some postings to a pretty racy Web site, DirtyScottsdale.com.
A, why did you say no when it was you? And B, why did you do it?
QUAYLE: John, I have been consistent with my story from the beginning. The Web site that is currently smearing me is a despicable Web site. And I have had no affiliation with that Web site. This is a smear campaign that's being pushed by one of my opponents.
And, you know, it's the type of gutter politics that we really are trying to get away from and the people here in CD-3 are sick of. I mean if you look at what's happened since this commercial, it's been 36 hours. We've had over 300,000 YouTube hits.
This is the thing that people are looking at. The issues that President Obama is trying to take our country towards a social welfare state and that we need to get people into office who are actually going to combat that. That's what people want to focus on.
KING: Well, I won't dispute that except I do want to be very clear. DirtyScottsdale.com. This is a quote from you, "I just posted comments to drive -- try to drive some traffic." You did post some things to DirtyScottsdale.com?
QUAYLE: I posted a -- this is what I've said from the beginning. I posted a few comments on a Web site that doesn't exist anymore. They're innocuous. And, you know, these are the types of smear campaigns that have been pushed against me about nothing.
This is much ado about nothing and, you know -- but since it's a famous last name, people want to focus on that. So -- but I'll be tough and then I'm just going to be staying focused on the issues and focusing on bringing our country back from the brink right now.
KING: Well, to a degree, you're right about the criticism. And I want to read you something from one of your opponents, Pam Gorman. Again, there are 10 Republicans seeking this nomination. She says there's 10 people in this race, there's nine of us that may not agree on anything. But we all agree that it's completely offensive that Dan Quayle is trying to buy his little boy a seat in Congress.
How would you respond to that?
QUAYLE: Well, that's what I've been dealing with since day one on this campaign. They know that they can't attack me on the issues because I'm -- I have a much better future -- vision for the future of our country.
I know the issues better than they do and I have a better campaign right now than they do. And so they just attack me on that sort of things that doesn't make any sense. So she can say what she wants, but in the end, we will take the nomination and move on to the general election.
KING: You are in a state right now. Let's talk about some of those issues. You're in a state that is ground zero in the border security and immigration debate in the United States right now. You've written letters critical of the Obama administration, tried to nudge your former governor, Janet Napolitano, now the Homeland Security secretary.
The president signed into law today a new border security measure, $600 million. He was already sending National Guard troops. This does a bit more beefing up the Border Patrol, beefing up customs and the like. Is it a positive step?
QUAYLE: I believe it is a positive step. But we need more. We need more troops at the border. And we need them right now. We were supposed to get the National Guard troops on August 1st, and now it's not going to be until the end of September.
If you go down to our southern border and see what's happening to the ranchers down there and see the devastation that happens from the drug cartels and the human smuggling, it'll rip your heart out. It is absolutely impossible to not see the problems we have with the poorest border.
KING: We speak on the 75th anniversary of Social Security. Just about everybody agrees if you're going to deal with the deficit long term, structurally, you have to do something with the big entitlement programs.
What would Ben Quayle recommend to do to change Social Security?
QUAYLE: Well, with Social Security, we would protect those who are in or near retirement today. But for people of my generation and younger, we would actually have to reform it which would be to start to gradually increase the retirement age up to 70 and allow a portion of the people to allow -- take a portion of their Social Security and actually invest it into private accounts.
These sorts of things need to be done because our entitlement programs are unfunded liabilities related to those are between $16 and $100 trillion which will freeze out all other spending and eventually bankrupt our country.
KING: Let me close where I began. The worst president in history. Nineteen months into office. You at the age of 33. You're sure you can make that conclusion?
QUAYLE: He -- what he has done in a year and a half, he's actually changed the country dramatically for the worse. More so than any president in our history. And I stand by my statement.
KING: Ben Quayle is a candidate -- Republican candidate for Arizona.
Mr. Quayle, thanks for your time today.
QUAYLE: Thank you. KING: Thank you.
So King began with this issue, and ended with it.
Hadn't Quayle sufficiently answered King's question the first time? Did it require a follow up minutes later?
After all, you could make the case that Quayle's position is premature considering Obama has been in office for less than nineteen months.
However, this is a campaign ad, and candidates make all kinds of intentionally inflammatory remarks in such commercials; King should know that.
Exit question: Would a Democrat have been questioned twice in such an interview about a campaign ad in which he or she called George W. Bush the worst president in history?