ABC's Chris Cuomo Gushes Over Carter and the 'Charisma' of Obama
During an interview on Monday, "Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo fawned over liberal icon Jimmy Carter and his support for Barack Obama's candidacy. After Carter touted how much excitement the Illinois senator creates wherever he travels, Cuomo cited his GMA colleague Diane Sawyer and eagerly agreed: "You know, Diane said once on this show that maybe a simple test for who's the right choice for president is somebody who makes the statement, America, wow!" (One wonders if this "simple test" would have been applied to Ronald Reagan and his 49 state landslide.)
Cuomo, who is the son of former Democratic governor of New York Mario Cuomo and the brother of the state's current Democratic attorney general, proceeded to fret about why Barack Obama, "with all the Obamamentum and all of the media attention and all of the charisma that he is said to have, how do you explain this contraction in the polls from 15 points now to a dead heat even in the big states?"
The GMA host teased the segment by lauding the one term president: "I could not think of somebody who could give us better perspective on what lies ahead for Barack Obama and what the Democrats need to do to win in this environment than former President Jimmy Carter." (Cuomo drew parallels between the 1976 election and that of the 2008 race.) He then mentioned how "very excited" he was to interview Carter.
In fairness, Cuomo did offer up one tough question. He highlighted a November 30, 2006 quote in which Carter asserted that Obama didn't have the "substance or experience to be the president."
A transcript of the August 26 segment, which aired at 8:33am, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: Oh, boy, did you say it right, Robin. I could not think of somebody who could give us better perspective on what lies ahead for Barack Obama and what the Democrats need to do to win in this environment than former President Jimmy Carter. He is with us this morning. He's going to give us his thoughts on last night and what lies ahead. Very excited to speak to him.
CUOMO: If Barack Obama needs someone who can relate to what he's up against, a high stakes speech, a tight general election on the heels of a brutal battle for his party's nomination, he should look no further than former President Jimmy Carter. 32 years ago Carter had emerged from a tough primary season to face a divided party and a treacherous road to the White House. So who better to get perspective than from former President Carter himself? Thank you for joining us.
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: Always a pleasure. Last night you made an appearance. Your old friend and rival Teddy Kennedy came out there in an explosive seven minutes. Your thoughts.
CARTER: Well, I think it was a wonderful evening. It showed again the depth and the breadth of the Democratic Party, what we stand for down through the ages. This is my ninth convention and they've all been exciting. They've all been different. Of course, I was much more involved back in 1976 and '80 than I am now but we have 26 votes and Rosa and me and my descendants and all 26 of us was for Obama so this is a good way to get together with the Georgia delegation. Georgia went for Obama as well. And we were very pleased with what has happened last night. I think the one thing that may have set the tongues wagging is a remarkable speech that Michelle made. She's as good a speaker as he is and I think the evening was a tremendous opening for reconciling the Democrats. What this convention will do I think more than anything else is to bring the party together. I notice in "USA Today" yesterday morning that only 46 percent of Hillary's delegates are enthusiastic about Obama and I believe that that's the one thing that we'll see at the end of this convention in two more days is a unified, enthusiastic party all supporting Obama.
CUOMO: Well, that is the traditional role of a convention, and this applies to you personally, as well. Early on with Obama you had your questions. You were quoted as saying you don't think he's got the proven substance or experience to be the president. I think you told Charlie Rose that.
CARTER: But that was almost three years ago.
CUOMO: So with time you have developed a different understanding of him. How so?
CARTER: I've heard him speak. I've talked to him. I know what his stands are on the issues and I've seen the excitement he's brought within my own family and also within --among the people that I know and around the world. Rosa and I have programs in 71 nations on earth. We visit 125 or so since we left the White House and the excitement in Asia and Africa and the Middle East and in Europe about Obama's campaign has just been extraordinary.
CUOMO: And that's relevant. You know, Diane said once on this show that maybe a simple test for who's the right choice for president is somebody who makes the statement, America, wow! And then maybe Obama is raising that. Maybe that's what he has going for him. Another position you had taken early on was that even though Hillary got 18 million votes she was not the right choice for VP. You wind up being right in terms of the selection. What do you see in Biden that he offers that Hillary would not have?
CARTER: Well, as soon as -- Rosa and I didn't express our public support until the primary season was over, the last day and I sent Obama a personal message, and that was right -- I didn't think that that would be a good combination but I recommended either Sam Nunn or Joe Biden. Sam Nunn because he's from Georgia and he's very mature and knows defense but I think Biden was the right choice and I think that will pull the party together and also show the breadth of experience that will be there in that duo when they take over as the leaders of our country.
CUOMO: Now, I know you're not a big fan of polls. I know that so I qualify this question. But Obama with all the Obamamentum and all of the media attention and all of the charisma that he is said to have, how do you explain this contraction in the polls from 15 points now to a dead heat even in the big states? Poll numbers just came out from Quinnipiac showing in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, his leads are small or not at all. Florida, he's trailing.
CARTER: Well, I know from experience exactly the reason for this. In 1976 in the Republican Convention they had a horrible battle between Ronald Reagan who was the challenger and Gerald Ford who was the incumbent and there was a deep bitterness there during the primary season and a sharp contest. And after the convention, immediately after the convention, I was 15 points ahead because the Reagan people refused to say they would vote for Ford but as the time went on the Republicans came back the way they ought to be and voted for Ford and I won, I got a majority of votes. I think the same thing has happened here much as I said only 46 percent of Hillary's people are enthusiastic about Obama and when her voters supporters decide to be enthusiastic about Obama which I believe they'll do this week, we'll see an immediate increase in the margin of preference for Obama over McCain. There's no doubt that between the two men Obama is the right choice.
CUOMO: I love that you gave us a prediction because it gives me an opportunity to invite you back to talk about what we see happen. Thank you, President Jimmy Carter.