Bad News For Obama, Hillary Clinton Is Still CBS's Media Darling

In perhaps an ominous sign of the fawning media coverage Senator Hillary Clinton will receive as she runs for president, CBS News correspondent Joie Chen proclaimed that "it may be easier to get an audience with the Wizard of Oz than steal Clinton’s thunder right now." Yet isn’t it the media that is creating this thunder? Monday’s "Early Show" ran four stories pertaining to Hillary Clinton entering the Democratic race for president, including an interview with her top advisor, Howard Wolfson, and to be fair, "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm did ask him some tough questions. Yet, when top tier Republican candidates have announced their intentions, as Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have all formed exploratory committees, the "Early Show" has not provided any coverage at all.

Even among Democratic candidates, Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy has received a disproportional amount of coverage. A look back over the last month reveals no such excitement from CBS's "Early Show" when other Democratic candidates have entered the race. On January 17, the day after Senator Barack Obama announced he was establishing an exploratory committee, the "Early Show" dedicated a full story to him, but the coverage was tempered as they also interviewed Senator Clinton on the program. And on December 28, 2006 when former Senator John Edwards joined the presidential race, he appeared on the air, but Harry Smith still questioned him about the dominance of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Democratic polls. Other announced candidates in the Democratic field such as Senators Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, or former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, have been given no coverage of their intentions by CBS’s morning program.

Republicans have fared worse. When Republican candidates have declared their intentions to either form an exploratory committee or even to forego that stage and announce that they are candidates for president, these events have not been covered by "The Early Show." And while some Republican candidates are discussed during segments pertaining to the 2008 presidential campaign as a whole, not one has been the primary subject of a campaign story.

Given the amount of coverage CBS and other news outlets have provided to Senator Clinton at the expense of other candidates, it is correct to assume no candidate will steal her thunder anytime soon. But if it weren’t for the coverage of the media, would Mrs. Clinton have any "thunder" at all.

Transcripts of the Clinton stories from this morning's "Early Show" follow:

7:03

Hannah Storm: "It's been a busy early race for the White House; Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and two others announced that they are entering the race this weekend. CBS News correspondent Joie Chen is live on Capitol Hill with more. Good morning, Joie."

Joie Chen: "Good morning, Hannah. Yes, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has finally ended all that speculation and in doing so in a very crowded already field of presidential wanna-bes, at least among Democrats, instantly becomes the one to beat."

Hillary Clinton, New York Senator: "It'll be a great contest with a lot of talented people."

Joie Chen: "'A lot' being the operative word, but in her first in person appearance since Saturday's on-line announcement of her ambition --

Hillary Clinton: "I announce today that I am forming a presidential exploratory committee."

Joie Chen: "New York's junior senator immediately upstaged the two other contenders who jumped into the race this weekend. Fellow Democrat New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who admitted his quest for the Republican nomination is something of a fantasy."

Sam Brownback, Kansas Senator: "My family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House."

Joie Chen: "It might be easier to get an audience with the Wizard and of Oz than steal Clinton's thunder right now. Whether Democrat or Republican, others who are after the job found themselves scrambling to acknowledge her dominance without coming across as irrelevant."

Joe Biden, Delaware Senator: "Oh, I think she's incredibly formidable and has got to be the front runner and odds-on pick right now."

John McCain, Arizona Senator: "I think she would be a very formidable candidate."

Joie Chen: "At this point, only McCain polls in the high 40s with Clinton. Though, that's with 22 months to go before the election and a lot of unknowns ahead, including the staying power of the young Illinois Senator, who's currently Clinton's closest Democratic rival, Barack Obama."

Barack Obama, Illinois Senator: "I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago."

Joie Chen: "But as the presumed front-runner with more than $13 million in her campaign war chest, unprecedented name recognition, and a full Senate term under her belt, Clinton cuts a unique figure in the 2008 roster, one she says will enable her to win."

Hillary Clinton: "I'm in; I'm in to win and that's what I intend to do."

Joie Chen: "Of course Senator Clinton steps into the fray with plenty of negatives as well. She's regularly called one of the most divisive and partisan figures in politics, but Hannah, her team says they've heard this all before, and they certainly expect more political body slams to come."

7:05

Hannah Storm: "And, one of the members of that team is with us this morning. Howard Wolfson, senior advisor to Senator Clinton, good morning."

Howard Wolfson, Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton: "Good morning."

Hannah Storm: "Let's talk about the timing of the announcement briefly as some speculated that Senator Obama's announcement accelerated yours, that you were feeling the pressure in terms of campaign contributors, but you wanted to have this happen before the State of the Union, right?"

Howard Wolfson: "We did. We think this is a time when Americans focus on the office of the presidency, the president, what a president can accomplish, and the big challenges facing our country. And we think all of those questions favor Senator Clinton because at the end of the day, people are going to vote for the person they think can be the very best president, and we think Senator Clinton has a unique set of attributes and qualities that make her uniquely qualified to be our next president."

Hannah Storm: "Let's talk about some of the challenges that you face in the campaign because there's a question, even among Democrats, as to whether or not Senator Clinton is electable in terms of a general election. How do you address that?

Howard Wolfson: "Well, ironically, there was a poll that came out just this weekend that showed Senator Clinton already winning. She's beating John McCain by 5 points in the latest 'Washington Post' poll."

Hannah Storm: "She is perceived as polarizing though."

Howard Wolfson: "There are Republicans who don't like her; it's true. But recent history suggests that at the end of the day there are a set of Republicans who aren't going to vote for any Democrat. And for people who wonder whether Senator Clinton can win, we say Senator Clinton is already winning in the polls. She's beating John McCain by five points. We feel very good she's in, and she's in to win."

Hannah Storm: "She will have to defend her vote on the Iraq war. That's something that Senator Obama will not have to do; that's something others will have to do. She voted for the war; we've seen terrible violence again this morning. How problematic will that be and when will we hear specifics from her?"

Howard Wolfson: "Well Senator Clinton just came back from a trip to the region where she met with the presidents of all the countries in the region, and she came back and said 'you know we need to cap the number troops at the level of January 1st. We can't allow George Bush to escalate this war.'

Hannah Storm: "She didn't give a timetable for troops leaving, however."

Howard Wolfson: "She did not, but she believes in a staged redeployment. She thinks we need more troops in Afghanistan less troops in Iraq."

Hannah Storm: "There are some who rightly or wrongly view her as cold and calculating. How do you convey an image of warmth and friendliness? Is that part of this rollout over the weekend? She was in a comfortable setting and yesterday we saw her with children at a health care clinic."

Howard Wolfson: "Well, one of the things we want to do is get people to know Senator Clinton, get her to meet them one-on-one. We're having a live web chat tonight at 7:00 at Hillaryclinton.com. We're going to do that tonight, tomorrow night and the next night, and then she's going to go out to Iowa and campaign the old fashioned way. We've got 21st century campaigning, we've got old fashioned campaigning. She's going to earn it."

Hannah Storm: "I am sure you expect that some of the scandals of her husband's presidency, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a lot of speculation about her marriage. These are issues that are going to arise. How do you address those?"

Howard Wolfson: "Actually, I don't think voters really care about this. I mean, I think that they-"

Hannah Storm: "But her opponents will use that as fodder, no doubt."

Howard Wolfson: "I'm not sure. I think the American people have really made up their minds about these issues. We're not going to sway anybody one way or the other. I think people are looking towards the future. We've got huge challenges facing this country. We are at a crossroads. Iraq is going badly as we heard this morning; we have global warming; we have dependence on foreign oil. The next president is going to face huge challenges, and those are the issues that are going to get talked about."

Hannah Storm: "How visible will her husband be in her campaign? Will he be front and center? Will he be off to the side? What will we see, behind the scenes?"

Howard Wolfson: "Well, certainly he is her biggest supporter; he always gives her good advice. He is very encouraged by her running. He campaigned for her in 2000; he campaigned for her in 2006, everywhere he went he was a big success. We're very much looking forward to him on the campaign trail."

Hannah Storm: Alright, Howard Wolfson, we'll be talking to you no doubt quite a bit in the next year. Thanks for being with us this morning."

7:34

Russ Mitchell: "The field of contenders for campaign 2008 is growing. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York will conduct a series of web chats with supporters this week. She announced her candidacy for president over the weekend. Fellow Democrat, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico also announced his intention to seek the oval office as did Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican."

8:01

Russ Mitchell: "Campaign 2008 is getting crowded. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York announced her candidacy for president this weekend. So did her fellow Democrat Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. Also, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas tossed his hat into the ring."