CBS: ‘Bitter Feud’ Among Republicans, Democrats in ‘Popularity Contest’

At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," CBS Correspondent Chip Reid began the day’s Super Tuesday election coverage with a report that described the Democratic race this way: "With more than 20 states on the line, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in a neck-and-neck sprint, campaigning almost around the clock. Focused, like voters, on the economy." Reid then went on to describe the Republican race:

REID: Mitt Romney, now well behind McCain in the national polls and trying to hang on, spent Monday in a frantic race from Tennessee to Georgia to Oklahoma to the big prize, California. Then through the night to West Virginia. All the while continuing his bitter feud with Mike Huckabee. Fighting for the same pool of southern conservatives, Huckabee accused Romney of trying to manipulate the election. Romney hit back hard.MITT ROMNEY: First, a couple of rules in politics. One, no whining. And number two, you get them to vote for you.REID: No whining in politics, those are fighting words. And one reason it's so bitter between Romney and Huckabee is that today one or both of them could be knocked out of this race.

On the Democrats, Reid touted their celebrity endorsements and Clinton’s Letterman appearance:

In the battle for Oscar-winning stars, Obama grabbed Robert Deniro Monday. Clinton took Jack Nicholson. Her final blitz also included more tears and some late-night laughs.

In contrast to the "bitter feud" between Romney and Huckabee, co-host Maggie Rodriguez had different concerns about the Democratic race in a later interview with Barack Obama:

Senator, your celebrity endorsements I'm sure have helped you as well. You're racking them up like they're going out of style. Does it ever feel to you that this is becoming a popularity contest, or do you think that you are different enough from Senator Clinton for people to vote based only on the issues?

Apparently there’s no bitterness on the Democratic side, just a beauty contest.Later, co-host Harry Smith had a similar hard-hitting interview with Hillary Clinton in which asked the following series of questions:

Serious question to start off, right off the bat, if there's one state you really, really want or really need today, give me one now, which one is it...Alright. This, here's your freebie of the day. The one sentence you want people to be thinking of as they head to their polling places...Final question this morning, when you get up or when you're as tired as you possibly can be and you wonder 'why on earth am I doing this,' who do you call?

Here is the full transcript of the Chip Reid segment:7:01AM SEGMENT: HARRY SMITH: It's a big day. Good morning, I'm Harry Smith here with Maggie Rodriguez in New York, Julie Chen is off. One of the most exciting days in election history, in memory. 24 states finally getting to vote and caucus. Plus as many as 6 million Americans overseas casting votes today as well. MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Think about that, 6 million Americans overseas alone, from London to Singapore and beyond, Americans are lining up in their hotels. It's quite a scene. And for the first time ever, some people are also voting on the internet. CBS News, of course, following this historical day. It all begins here and culminates this evening with a special report with Katie Couric at 10:00pm.SMITH: Here's what you need to watch for today in the democratic race. Where will women go? Where will Edwards voters go? Will the youth vote show up? On the Republican race, who is the real conservative? Where will the Evangelicals go? Will the race be over today? We're going to be asking the candidates today which states they're worried about, which ones they want the most, what one message they hope the voters will take with them to the voting booth today. But first, here's CBS News Correspondent Chip Reid in New York, a Super Tuesday state as well. Good morning, Chip.CHIP REID: Good morning, Harry. They call this Super Tuesday, but that doesn't begin to explain just how big this is. In fact, there has never been a primary day quite like this in the history of American politics. With more than 20 states on the line, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in a neck-and-neck sprint, campaigning almost around the clock. Focused, like voters, on the economy.BARACK OBAMA: We want to restore a sense of balance to our economy.REID: Together they're spending more than $1.3 million a day on TV ads alone. Total spending this primary season for both parties now well over half a billion dollars, far more than ever before. In the battle for Oscar-winning stars, Obama grabbed Robert Deniro Monday. Clinton took Jack Nicholson. Her final blitz also included more tears and some late-night laughs.HILLARY CLINTON: In my White House, we will know who wears the pant suits.DAVID LETTERMAN: Hello, yeah!REID: Super Tuesday was supposed to determine the Democratic winner, but with the race now so close, experts say Clinton and Obama may slug it out for days or even weeks more until one of them staggers across the finish line. On the Republican side, though, a surging John McCain is hoping to deliver a knockout punch today.JOHN MCCAIN: We have every good shot at carrying the state of Massachusetts tomorrow and winning this state and sweeping the east.REID: Mitt Romney, now well behind McCain in the national polls and trying to hang on, spent Monday in a frantic race from Tennessee to Georgia to Oklahoma to the big prize, California. Then through the night to West Virginia. All the while continuing his bitter feud with Mike Huckabee. Fighting for the same pool of southern conservatives, Huckabee accused Romney of trying to manipulate the election. Romney hit back hard.MITT ROMNEY: First, a couple of rules in politics. One, no whining. And number two, you get them to vote for you.REID: No whining in politics, those are fighting words. And one reason it's so bitter between Romney and Huckabee is that today one or both of them could be knocked out of this race. But there is one piece of good news for them, McCain at the last minute scheduled a late stop in California today, a sign that maybe he's a little nervous about that all-important state. Maggie.RODRIGUEZ: CBS's Chip Reid in New York City. Thank you, Chip. Here is the full transcript of the Obama interview: 7:04AM SEGMENT:MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now from West Newton, Massachusetts, is Senator Barack Obama. Good morning to you, Senator.BARACK OBAMA: Good morning. How are you?RODRIGUEZ: I'm fine, thank you. And I noticed that you chose to start your day in Massachusetts, which has long been considered Clinton country. But I'm wondering if you had to choose just one state that you really need or want this morning, which one would it be?OBAMA: Illinois. That's where I live. So those are the folks who know me best and hopefully we'll do just fine there. Otherwise, look, we've got contests all across the country. Senator Clinton, I think, has to be the prohibitive favorite going in given her name recognition, but we've been steadily chipping away because, as I've traveled around the country, people are really anxious about the future, they're anxious about the economy, and they recognize that unless we can bring people together and push back against some of the special interests in Washington, we're not going to be able to provide health care for everybody. We're not going to be able to help people pay for their college educations. We're not going to be able to help folks with day care and other costs that are going up all the time. So that's really been the focus of our campaign in these last several weeks.RODRIGUEZ: Senator, your celebrity endorsements I'm sure have helped you as well. You're racking them up like they're going out of style. Does it ever feel to you that this is becoming a popularity contest, or do you think that you are different enough from Senator Clinton for people to vote based only on the issues?OBAMA: Well, you know, I don't think the voters pay that much attention to celebrity endorsements. I think what they're concerned about is who can listen to the concerns of voters and then translate that into actual programs and policies that help people achieve their dreams.RODRIGUEZ: In one sentence, Senator, tell me why that person is you.OBAMA: Well, that's what I've been doing for 20 years. As a community organizer, working for people who have lost their jobs on the streets of Chicago, to working as a civil rights attorney for those who had been denied opportunity, to working as a state legislator and helping people with health care, day care, a whole host of bread and butter issues that they're dealing with, and the agenda that I've put forward as a United States Senator and a presidential candidate, providing middle-class tax cuts, taking tax breaks away from companies that are shipping jobs overseas, tuition credit, $4,000 a year for every student so that they can go to college without racking up enormous debt. Those are the kinds of concrete, you know, specific ideas that I think people have found appealing, and that's why I think we're doing so well.RODRIGUEZ: Senator Barack Obama, thank you very much for joining us.OBAMA: It's great to talk to you. Thank you.RODRIGUEZ: Thanks. Let's pose some of these questions to your opponent now. For that, here's Harry.  Here is the full transcript of the Clinton interview:7:07AM SEGMENT:HARRY SMITH: Now from Chappaqua, New York, Senator Hillary Clinton, good morning, Senator.HILLARY CLINTON: Good morning, Harry.SMITH: Serious question to start off, right off the bat, if there's one state you really, really want or really need today, give me one now, which one is it.CLINTON: Well, you know, Harry, I won't answer that because I want as many as I can get. I'm not going to single out anyone. But this is an amazing day because we've never done this before. We have, you know, primaries from coast to coast. No one has ever done this, including our voters. So, you know, I really want to encourage people, if you're in one of those Super Tuesday states, to come out and help pick a president.SMITH: Alright. This, here's your freebie of the day. The one sentence you want people to be thinking of as they head to their polling places.CLINTON: Well, with two wars abroad and a recession looming, people need a president who is tested and ready on day one to be the Commander in Chief, to turn the economy around and make it work for middle-class people and to actually win in November. And I believe I offer all of that to voters.SMITH: Alright. I want to share with you some conversations I've had over the last couple of days as I've been traveling around the country. Speaking to women, women who have supported you for a long time are thinking, 'is it time for a change? Have the Clintons had their turn?' Is it -- this is very, very serious now and very tempted to leave you and vote for Barack Obama. If you had an opportunity to speak to them, what would you say?CLINTON: Well, I would ask them to look at our records and look at what I've done over a lifetime to bring change to people, look at our plans. I have the only plan left in either side that actually will move us toward universal health care. I'm the only one who has been talking about and has a plan to deal with the mortgage crisis and the foreclosures that are happening to people. And I have the experience to make the changes that we need. And I think that as we look at how difficult the campaign will be, we need someone who is ready to run against the Republicans, who can talk about the future with confidence and optimism and to take care of people again. We need a president who will actually be there for the American people and get up every morning and do that, and that's what I've done all my life, and that's what I will do.SMITH: Final question this morning, when you get up or when you're as tired as you possibly can be and you wonder 'why on earth am I doing this,' who do you call?CLINTON: Well, I don't have to call anybody. I think about all the people that I've met, Harry. You know, I met a lot of them yesterday in New Haven and Connecticut and Massachusetts and back here in New York who need a president. They need a president who will put the American people first.SMITH: Senator Hillary Clinton with the most coveted -- what do they call that -- endorsement of all yesterday from Jack Nicholson. Thank you very, very much for joining us this morning. Good luck.CLINTON: Thanks, Harry. Good to talk to you. SMITH: Take care.

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