CBS’s Reynolds Still Doubtful of McCain Denial of Questioning Obama’s Patriotism

Dean Reynolds, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Dean Reynolds reported on Barack Obama’s upcoming announcement of a running mate and also highlighted John McCain’s criticism of Obama’s foreign policy: "But McCain is seen by most voters as better on foreign policy and much more likely to be an effective commander-in-chief. That may explain why he's been hammering Obama on the Iraq war, all the while denying that he's calling Obama's patriotism into question."

On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, Reynolds declared: "Obama is pivoting toward a more combative style, rebuking the Republicans for habitually turning differences over policy into questions about patriotism, a habit he said John McCain has readily embraced." Similar to Thursday’s Early Show comment, on Wednesday’s Evening News, Reynolds was skeptical of McCain denying to question Obama’s patriotism: "Yet the McCain campaign continues to run ads attacking Obama on a personal level, belittling him as a shallow celebrity and describing him as fussy, hysterical, or testy."

On Thursday’s Early Show, in addition to reporting on Obama being "on the verge of making his running mate announcement," Reynolds also described how McCain "keeps getting worried questions about his selection...fielding persistent questions about whether he or his running mate will be conservative enough." Reynolds went on to tout new poll numbers: "...according to our poll, McCain's supporters are less fervent than those who support Obama, who is also seen as better able to deal with domestic issues like the economy."

Following Reynolds’s report, Early Show co-host Harry Smith talked to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson about Obama’s VP pick. After Richardson gave a vague list of credentials for Obama’s potential running mate, Smith asked about the direction of the campaign: "Here's my other question of the moment, because Barack Obama went on vacation, because John McCain seemed to have the stage to himself, with very aggressive advertising, the gap has closed considerably between the two. McCain seems to be surging. Has Barack Obama lost his momentum?" Richardson denied any such problem: "No, no. Look, right now, right after the conventions, right after Labor Day, is when voters start paying attention...I see right after the conventions, a break out for Senator Obama...So, I think the stars are lining up for us once again."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Guessing game. As we prepare for an exclusive interview with Barack Obama, who will he pick as his running mate?

7:01AM TEASER:

SMITH: We're busy around here this morning, talking about the veepstakes and we're going to be heading down state to Virginia in just a little while. We have an exclusive interview with Barack Obama, here on the eve of the Democratic convention. We will talk with him and we will have that exclusive interview for you tomorrow. And it's the best-kept secret in Washington and that's saying a lot. Who will Barack Obama choose as his running mate? CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds has more on that and we're going to talk with Bill Richardson in just a couple of seconds.

7:04 AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: As we say, it is the best-kept secret in Washington, and that's saying a lot. Who will Barack Obama choose as his running mate? CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds is in Richmond this morning with more on that. Good morning, Dean.

DEAN REYNOLDS: Good morning, Harry. Well, Barack Obama is on the verge of making his running mate announcement. John McCain keeps getting worried questions about his selection and this race keeps getting tighter. Obama is playing things very close to the vest on a vice presidential pick. Obama, whose lead is shrinking in the new CBS News poll, is planning a rally on Saturday in Springfield, Illinois, at which the Democratic ticket will appear, but beyond that, little is known. And the most talked about candidates are remaining silent about their prospects. Senator Joe Biden is experienced, but undisciplined on the stump. Senator Evan Bayh is experienced, from a red state, but an uninspiring campaigner. Governor Tim Kaine could put Virginia in play, but lacks any national experience or reputation. As for McCain, he's fielding persistent questions about whether he or his running mate will be conservative enough.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Can you -- can you at least say whether there are certain positions that are non-negotiable for your vice-presidential pick?

JOHN MCCAIN: I can't talk about it because if I do, I will get down a slippery slope.

REYNOLDS: But McCain is seen by most voters as better on foreign policy and much more likely to be an effective commander-in-chief. That may explain why he's been hammering Obama on the Iraq war, all the while denying that he's calling Obama's patriotism into question.

MCCAIN: Let me be very clear. I am not questioning his patriotism. I am questioning his judgment.

REYNOLDS: And yet according to our poll, McCain's supporters are less fervent than those who support Obama, who is also seen as better able to deal with domestic issues like the economy. But our poll also found that even now, most voters don't think either candidate has made clear what he would do if elected president. Harry.

SMITH: Dean Reynolds in Richmond this morning, Thanks. Joining us now from Santa Fe, New Mexico is Governor Bill Richardson. An early and outspoken supporter of Obama, he's also believed to be on the VP short list. Can you say unequivocally that you are no longer on that list?

BILL RICHARDSON: I don't talk about it, Harry, but you know, I have signed up for that e-mail where everybody's notified. I'm on that list. So I'll know about the same time you do.

SMITH: Okay. If you had to choose of all the other people on this list-

RICHARDSON: You know I'm going to talk about that-

SMITH: I know, I know, I know. If you had to pick from all the other people on this list, other than yourself, who would you choose?

RICHARDSON: Well, look. I think characteristics are important. One, you got to have somebody that can be president. Secondly, I think foreign policy experience is very important. Third, you've got to totally trust that person. And then fourth, you know, it would help if that person brings in some electoral votes, a state or two, a region. I think that's the qualification. But what I think Senator Obama and his team have done, because they have not leaked, they've been very disciplined, is they've created great anticipation for this, necessary to have a very successful and exciting convention.

SMITH: You're criteria there almost sounds like you're describing yourself. Here's my other question of the moment, because Barack Obama went on vacation, because John McCain seemed to have the stage to himself, with very aggressive advertising, the gap has closed considerably between the two. McCain seems to be surging. Has Barack Obama lost his momentum?

RICHARDSON: No, no. Look, right now, right after the conventions, right after Labor Day, is when voters start paying attention. Senator Obama is strong in every region among independents. He's maintained, I think, his change message, his bringing people together message, bipartisanship. I see right after the conventions, a break out for Senator Obama. But I think what he's succeeded is creating dramatic excitement for the Democratic convention with bringing the Clinton people together, having Senator Clinton be part of a big convention. Great anticipation for the vice presidential pick. And I think he succeeded in doing that and that's where we're heading into Denver this week.

SMITH: Last question. You mentioned Hillary Clinton, the wild card of all wild cards. If you were a betting man, would you say there's any chance whatsoever she ends up on the ticket with Barack Obama?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think there is a chance this could be a pick that nobody is predicting. So, that could be the case. With her or other candidates. You know, she was out here in New Mexico, we did a fund-raiser for her three days ago, two fund-raisers for her, she did a rally for Senator Obama. I think she is genuinely pushing her supporters to support Senator Obama. She is very sincere in her support. And I think that party unity element that was a problem during the primaries, the Clinton and Obama forces in a very contested race is coming together. So, I think the stars are lining up for us once again.

SMITH: Alright. Governor Richardson, as always, a pleasure. We'll see you in Denver. Sounds like you've mended some fences with her too as well.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you so much.

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