CBS ‘Early Show’: Is Campaign ‘Aging’ Obama?

Bianca Solorzano, CBS On Monday’s "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith highlighted Barack Obama’s birthday, but wondered: "So is he feeling older faster as a result of the campaign trail?" Correspondent Bianca Solorzano later reported on Obama turing 47 and having endured a long campaign: "Barack Obama has been campaigning for president for 18 months...It was just four years ago that the relatively unknown Illinois Senator burst onto the political stage at the 2004 Democratic national convention. Now the 47-year-old has been campaigning around the clock and around the world."

Clips of Obama noting his age were played throughout the segment: "I'm getting gray hair. Running for president will age you quick." On that note, Solorzano even talked to Obama’s barber who commented: "Yeah, his hair is a little bit, but you know that's normal for his age group. You know, not too much gray, just a little bit." The meaning behind all this emphasis on Obama getting older soon became evident as political analyst Jeff Greenfield observed: "I think probably a little more gray, a little more wrinkles, probably isn't such a bad thing for somebody who's running for president."

While Greenfield suggested Obama turning another year older was somehow a political advantage, Solorzano still wanted to remind viewers of the Illinois Senator’s youthfulness compared to John McCain: "In fact, Obama's almost a quarter century younger than his rival, John McCain."

However, Solorzano also pointed out: "Some say it [Obama’s youth] can be a double-edged sword." Greenfield added: "The fact that he's one of the younger people to ever have been nominated for president helps to underscore the change issue. The down side is whether or not Obama's age, combined with his relative lack of experience will suggest to some voters he's not ready for the job."

Solorzano then compared Obama to past youthful candidates: "After all, Obama's certainly not the youngest man to run for president. Bill Clinton was 46 when he was elected. John F. Kennedy was 43. Robert Kennedy was even younger." Greenfield, a former speech writer for Robert Kennedy, added how his former boss: "...was 42. Nobody raised the age issue. Because his experience in the Kennedy Administration as the second most powerful person, having gone through the Cuban Missile Crisis, absolutely took experience off the table."

Finally, Solorzano concluded the segment by showing concern for Obama’s eating habits on the campaign trail: " Senator Obama is being a campaign junky. He recently gave up smoking, which ages you. He has a reputation for eating healthy. But it is a very different story on the trail. Or at least in these photo ops where he's eating hot dogs, tacos, fajitas, cheese steaks, and cake." Solorzano then added: "Perhaps the former high school hoopster burns off the calories while courting voters at campaign events," as footage of Obama playing basketball appeared on screen.

Solorzano’s final thought: "And while it's common to see presidents raising their heart rate, it's also common to see them aging while in office. If Obama gets to the White House, only time will tell what his face will look like in four or even eight years." So, while still being a full "quarter century" younger than John McCain, Barack Obama is starting to age in a presidential fashion.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

8:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Barack Obama celebrates a birthday today. So is he feeling older faster as a result of the campaign trail?

BARACK OBAMA: When I started this campaign everybody called me a young man. They're not calling me that anymore.

8:05AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama turns 47 years old today. There's been a lot of talk about Obama's youthful look. But as CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reports, even Obama admits to showing some signs of aging.

BARACK OBAMA: I've noticed that I've been getting gray since this campaign started.

BIANCA SOLORZANO: Barack Obama has been campaigning for president for 18 months.

OBAMA: When I started this campaign everybody called me a young man. They're not calling me that anymore.

SOLORZANO: It was just four years ago that the relatively unknown Illinois Senator burst onto the political stage at the 2004 Democratic national convention. Now the 47-year-old has been campaigning around the clock and around the world.

OBAMA: I'm getting gray hair. Running for president will age you quick.

ZARIFF: You know, I cut his hair. He keeps it close and cropped.

SOLORZANO: Zariff has been Obama's barber for the past 15 years.

ZARIFF: Yeah, his hair is a little bit, but you know that's normal for his age group. You know, not too much gray, just a little bit.

JEFF GREENFIELD: I think probably a little more gray, a little more wrinkles, probably isn't such a bad thing for somebody who's running for president.

SOLORZANO: In fact, Obama's almost a quarter century younger than his rival, John McCain. Some say it can be a double-edged sword.

GREENFIELD: The fact that he's one of the younger people to ever have been nominated for president helps to underscore the change issue. The down side is whether or not Obama's age, combined with his relative lack of experience will suggest to some voters he's not ready for the job.

SOLORZANO: After all, Obama's certainly not the youngest man to run for president. Bill Clinton was 46 when he was elected. John F. Kennedy was 43. Robert Kennedy was even younger.

GREENFIELD: When Robert Kennedy ran for president in 1968, he was 42. Nobody raised the age issue. Because his experience in the Kennedy Administration as the second most powerful person, having gone through the Cuban Missile Crisis, absolutely took experience off the table.

SOLORZANO: While experience in this race is a tabletop issue. Another thing on the table for Senator Obama is being a campaign junky. He recently gave up smoking, which ages you. He has a reputation for eating healthy. But it is a very different story on the trail. Or at least in these photo ops where he's eating hot dogs, tacos, fajitas, cheese steaks, and cake. Perhaps the former high school hoopster burns off the calories while courting voters at campaign events. And while it's common to see presidents raising their heart rate, it's also common to see them aging while in office. If Obama gets to the White House, only time will tell what his face will look like in four or even eight years. Bianca Solorzano, CBS News, New York.

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