CBS ‘Early Show’: Happy Birthday President Hillary!

On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith and reporter Jeff Greenfield held a Hillary love-fest as they discussed her 60th birthday party and her inevitability as the Democratic nominee. Co-host Hannah Storm previewed the segment at the top of the show with this excited declaration: "Hillary Clinton has turned 60, and ahead, we have the scoop on the star-studded birthday bash and what might be her favorite presents, a ridiculous lead in the polls and a sack full of campaign cash." Presents, a sack -- it sounds like Santa came early this year.

Even more gushing came from Greenfield’s fawning political analysis:

So, she leads big in every poll, she's ahead in the money race, she's practically been awarded the nomination by the pundits, and the question arises -- how did so polarizing and so controversial a figure, come to so dominate her party's race for the nomination?...If Senator Clinton feels like celebrating her 60th birthday, who can blame her? She seems somewhere between uncatchable and untouchable.

In an effort to be bipartisan, Greenfield made sure to include the Republican perspective as well:

GREENFIELD: ...It's that the whole political universe, Republicans included, are treating her nomination as a done deal...But before Clinton starts drafting her acceptance speech, she might want to listen to Republican strategist Mike Murphy.

MIKE MURPHY: I take this nomination fight very, very seriously, because she has a lot of weaknesses that aren't her fault, but just, she may not fit the times.

Even the slightest notion by a Republican strategist of Hillary not getting the nomination had to be prefaced with the idea that it would not be her fault. Greenfield did make some effort at suggesting bad news for Clinton as he interpreted Murphy’s comments, "In other words, Harry, maybe we should wait until somebody votes." Smith laughingly responded, "Radical concept. Because people really do believe, a lot of people believe, this is a done deal for her. What could alter that?"

Greenfield did suggest that things could change in the primaries, but when asked about the influence of gender he exclaimed: "I think it helps her enormously in the primary, because if Edwards and Obama are arguing she's not really the candidate of change, the mere fact she'd be the first woman president, seems to answer that." Apparently as long as you are a different gender from your opponents, you win!

Finally, after Smith asked what effect earlier caucus and primary dates would have, Greenfield once again proclaimed good news for the Clinton campaign, "Well it's another birthday present for Hillary..."

Here is a full transcript of the 7:18am segment:

7:01AM TEASER:

HANNAH STORM: Also, Julie, as you know, Hillary Clinton has turned 60, and ahead, we have the scoop on the star-studded birthday bash and what might be her favorite presents, a ridiculous lead in the polls and a sack full of campaign cash.

7:18AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Good morning again. I'm Harry Smith. You're watching The Early Show on CBS. Today is Senator Hillary Clinton's 60th birthday, and as you know she's not thinking about retirement. Last night, a birthday party in New York raised another million dollars-plus for her presidential campaign. CBS News Senior Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield is here with more. Good morning.

Jeff GREENFIELD: Morning Harry. So, she leads big in every poll, she's ahead in the money race, she's practically been awarded the nomination by the pundits, and the question arises -- how did so polarizing and so controversial a figure, come to so dominate her party's race for the nomination? Take a look. If Senator Clinton feels like celebrating her 60th birthday, who can blame her? She seems somewhere between uncatchable and untouchable.

HILLARY CLINTON: Because I have been a fan, and I remain a fan of the New York Yankees. No changes.

GREENFIELD: It's not just a huge lead in the still early horse race polls, or that she appears ahead in the key early voting states. A narrow lead over her principal rivals in Iowa, a huge lead over them in New Hampshire. It's that the whole political universe, Republicans included, are treating her nomination as a done deal.

RUDY GIULIANI: Quote Hillary Clinton.

MIKE HUCKABEE: Hillary Clinton being president.

MITT ROMNEY: We're not going Hillary's way.

GREENFIELD: She also seems, so far, to have neutralized her opponents' strongest attacks. For instance, her rivals have zeroed in on her 2002 vote to authorize force in Iraq.

BARACK OBAMA: She says she wasn't really voting for war back in 2002, but all of us know what was being debated in Congress in 2002.

GREENFIELD: But in a new CBS News poll, more Democratic voters say she's the one likely to get most of the troops out. John Edwards repeatedly criticizes her for her ties to special interests, especially in the form of campaign contributions.

JOHN EDWARDS: She seems to think you can talk about ending the influence of lobbyists, but still take millions of dollars from them.

GREENFIELD: Clinton has answered that charge by seizing the same middle-class theme that worked for her husband 16 years ago.

CLINTON: I come from the middle class.

GREENFIELD: But before Clinton starts drafting her acceptance speech, she might want to listen to Republican strategist Mike Murphy.

MIKE MURPHY: I take this nomination fight very, very seriously, because she has a lot of weaknesses that aren't her fault, but just, she may not fit the times.

GREENFIELD: In other words, Harry, maybe we should wait until somebody votes.

SMITH: Radical concept. Because people really do believe, a lot of people believe, this is a done deal for her. What could alter that?

GREENFIELD: These national polls are really misleading and have been historically in the primaries. Primary voters decide late and they move radically from one candidate to another. It happened in '04 with Kerry and Edwards. We really have to see how these early primary states play out before you cede this nomination.

SMITH: Help sift through some of this data, this new polling data. Where does gender come into play in this?

GREENFIELD: This is actually a hunch of mine rather than polling, but I think it helps her enormously in the primary, because if Edwards and Obama are arguing she's not really the candidate of change, the mere fact she'd be the first woman president, seems to answer that. What do you mean, no change, first woman president?

SMITH: Right.

GREENFIELD: What happens in November, should she get the nomination, could be a different story. But here it helps.

SMITH: Okay, so the Democrats, along with the Republicans, now moving the caucus date in Iowa up to January 3rd.

GREENFIELD: Right.

SMITH: What does that mean for her opponents?

GREENFIELD: Well it's another birthday present for Hillary, because if you are a come-from-behind candidate, you need that time, once the calendar shifts, Christmas is over, to make your case. That's how Kerry and Edwards closed in '04.

SMITH: Right.

GREENFIELD: It's what happened to Gary Hart in New Hampshire. If you've got 48 hours after New Year's Eve, you have less time.

SMITH: Yeah, indeed. Jeff Greenfield, as always, thank you so much, great to see you.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC