ABC's David Muir Has Trouble Finding Republicans in Mississippi
"Good Morning America" reporter David Muir on Friday reported live from Mississippi and somehow managed to not feature a single supporter of Senator John McCain, despite the fact that a Research 2000 poll found the Republican candidate maintaining an 18 point lead in the state. In the only allusion to that, Muir began, "In a state considered deeply red, John McCain has family roots here." He then highlighted an Obama supporter: "But those ties aren't enough for Heidi Burell, whose own son is in the Navy. She wants the war to end." In a clip, Ms. Burell hoped that America will regain "respect in the world community."
Muir featured Mississippi resident Todd Molino who stated, "You see it everywhere you look, health care has become unaffordable." The reporter also described an elderly couple: "And it's health care that worries Buddy and Marilyn Hardy who can't afford to buy their prescription drugs." However, despite asserting that the individuals he spoke to were "divided on their pick for president," no enthusiastic McCain backers were featured.
Muir's report was part of ABC's "50 States in 50 Days" series that is airing on various ABC News programs. His reports from Arkansas on Wednesday and Illinois on Tuesday were more balanced. The latter segment featured both Obama and McCain voters. Muir even talked to a voter who worried about taxes on small businesses.
A transcript of the September 26 segment, which aired at 8:43am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Now, come travel the country with us. Our special 50 states in 50 days election coverage. And this week, as you know, David Muir has been making his way down the Mississippi, stopping in Illinois on Wednesday, Arkansas yesterday. This morning, he is in Mississippi, where John McCain and Barack Obama are supposed to hold their first presidential debate tonight at Ol' Miss University. And right now, he's in Vicksburg. David, good morning.
DAVID MUIR: Ahoy to you, Diane, from this beautiful river boat in Vicksburg. What a beautiful place this is. This boat actually a key to the economy here. And we'll tell you why in just a second. We thought we'd end our Mississippi tour here in this state, because it's the first to hold the first presidential debate. Who knew there would be a debate over the debate. But regardless, the people here wish they were asking the questions. As we travel down the Mighty Mississippi, it was hard to miss, what appeared to be a grand river boat from a bygone era. Instead, it is a sign of a new one. It is one of four casinos in historical Vicksburg, offering a much-needed shot in the arm here. The city has collected $7 million in tax revenue from these casinos so far this year. It does help. But it doesn't solve high prices at the gas pump or the grocery store. Here, the economy weighs heavily. So, are you thinking about your baby as you try to make up your mind?
BESS AVERETT (Vicksburg, Mississippi mom): Oh, absolutely. It's hard not think about her this morning.
MUIR: Born and raised in Vicksburg, Beth Averett is about to expand her family here.
AVERETT: I don't like having to spend all my money on milk and diapers. And, so, the economy is a hot topic for me.
MUIR: In a state considered deeply red, John McCain has family roots here. His great-grandfather lived in Mississippi. His grandfather went to the University of Mississippi. But those ties aren't enough for Heidi Burell, whose own son is in the navy. She wants the war to end.
HEIDI BURELL (Port Gibson, Mississippi mom): I'm hoping we regain respect in the world community.
UNIDENTIFIED OFF CAMERA VOICE: Change may not always be good.
MUIR: Inside this home built back in 1880, a legendary restaurant. You have to bring your appetite and the opinion. Why the chicken here?
SECOND UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE The crust is so good and crispy.
MUIR: These voters love their city. But they see what's happening here. Mortgage delinquencies in Mississippi are the highest in the nation.
ROBERT WARE (Real estate developer): Our deficit is are higher than it's ever been. And a lot of people are losing their homes.
TODD MOLINO (Hotel developer): You see it everywhere you look, health care has become unaffordable.
MUIR: And it's health care that worries Buddy and Marilyn Hardy who can't afford to buy their prescription drugs.
BUDDY HARDY (72-years old): Even though they're made in the United States, we buy them out of Canada. And they're cheap and more affordable.
MUIR: Americans spend an estimated $1.5 million on drugs from Canada, every year. This group is divided on their pick for president. But they were unanimous on one issue, energy.
NELDA SAMPEY (Banker): Quit being dependent on third-world, you know, countries that are holding us hostage for the economy.
MUIR: And they may hear about some of those issues, may, in this debate over foreign policy tonight. We'll keep our eyes on that. But, check this out, Diane and Robin. This is Robin Roberts country, here in Mississippi. And this morning, before I could get out of the room, while I was getting ready, I heard this rumbling outside. Is this what you got on the whistle-stop tour all last week? I mean, this was an incredible welcome. They basically were the alarm clock this morning. These folks out ready to be out here to say hey to GMA. And so many signs saying hi to Diane and Robin. So, I feel like I'm the GMA ambassador down here.
ROBERTS: You're doing a good job, David. Give my love to all my home folks down in Mississippi. So much to be proud of in that state. And tourism still a very positive factor there in Vicksburg and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where I grew up. And hotel inventory's about 70 percent what they were pre-Katrina. And there's still new hotels that are going to be opening up by next summer. So, a lot of positive things going on down there.