CBS’s Rodriguez Pushes McCain to Do More to Ban NC GOP Ad

NewsBusters.org | Still Shot of Maggie Rodriguez and John McCain, April 25 On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed John McCain and asked about the recent ad put out by the North Carolina Republican Party that criticized Barack Obama’s relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright: "The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?"

McCain replied by once again denouncing the ad:

It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view.

However, that was still not enough for Rodriguez, who followed up with: "But as the Republican nominee for president, couldn't you pick up the phone and call the head of the North Carolina GOP and say, don't run it?"

On both Thursday’s "Early Show" and Wednesday’s "Evening News" co-host Harry Smith suggested that the North Carolina ad was a sign of the campaign getting "nastier."

Here is the full transcript of the Friday "Early Show" segment:

7:01AM

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first this morning one of the most controversial figures of the 2008 presidential campaign has been Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former minister. His fiery words hurt Obama's campaign and may do so again in North Carolina. But Wright is now slamming those who he claims misrepresented him. We'll have more on that in a moment. The controversy over Reverend Wright came up in my interview with Senator John McCain, who campaigned yesterday in New Orleans, courting voters in a largely Democratic region.

JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I'm here to talk to the people, with their great governor, who happens to be a Republican, by the way, and I want to assure them that this will never happen again. Never.

RODRIGUEZ: When you say "this," are you referring to how the government handled Hurricane Katrina?

MCCAIN: Yes. The mismanagement of this disaster will never happen again, whether it's natural or man-made. It will never happen again.

RODRIGUEZ: Senator, I know that you plan to have Mike Huckabee along for part of your trip. Are you considering him, or anyone for that matter, as your running mate?

MCCAIN: Governor Huckabee is a great person and contributed enormously in the campaign into our Republican Party, but we're not discussing the process Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: You haven't decided on a running mate. The Democrats haven't decide on a nominee. And your wife Cindy has said that this protracted battle is good for your campaign. How so?

MCCAIN: I don't know whether it's good or bad for the campaign. I have no idea. We're running our own campaign. We can't do anything about it. So we're just moving on.

RODRIGUEZ: The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?

MCCAIN: It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view.

RODRIGUEZ: But as the Republican nominee for president, couldn't you pick up the phone and call the head of the North Carolina GOP and say, don't run it?

MCCAIN: I have communicated that in every possible way, and I will continue to communicate that.

RODRIGUEZ: Senator, you have criticized Senator Obama and continue to do so, calling him out of touch and elitist. Someone on the outside looking in might read into that, maybe he would prefer to go up against Senator Clinton in the election.

MCCAIN: I have no preference in this race and I have no influence over it either. I have -- I have said that Senator Obama's remarks concerning the heartland of America are elitist. I didn't say he's elitist.

RODRIGUEZ: Would you describe the difference for me.

MCCAIN: Sure. One is a person who's an elitist and the other one is a person who makes elitist remarks.

RODRIGUEZ: Senator, you're connecting with people who are facing two of the biggest issues in this election and in our country right now, the economy and health care. If you're elected president, where would your immediate focus be?

MCCAIN: My immediate purpose would be to get our economy going again. And to make sure that families make the decisions in health care in America and not the big government, as Senator Obama and Senator Clinton want to do. As far as the economy is concerned, don't raise taxes the way Senator Obama wants to do on capital gains. If you want to raise taxes, then don't vote for me.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Senator John McCain, thank you for your time.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: And Senator McCain will campaign in Little Rock, Arkansas today, joined by Mike Huckabee.

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