CBS Plays Up 'Inevitable' Presidential Run of Hillary; Hypes Celebrity Endorsements

Thursday's CBS This Morning boosted a super PAC aimed at supporting a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016, and spotlighted how Mrs. Clinton is "sticking to a speaking circuit that recently included the opening of a children's library in Arkansas bearing her name. It's not exactly a presidential library, but it may be just another baby step toward what many believe is inevitable."

Correspondent Jeff Pegues played up the "prominent endorsements from politicians and celebrities", and how the former First Lady's backers are "already building a growing campaign infrastructure, they say, whether she likes it or not."

Anchor Gayle King hyped the super PAC's "secret office" as she teased Pegues' report. Co-anchor Norah O'Donnell introduced the segment by pointing out how "the campaign in waiting for Hillary Clinton's widely-expected second run for the White House got some help this week. Two heavy hitters from the Obama campaign have joined the Ready for Hillary super PAC."

The correspondent first outlined that the former secretary of state's public activities "continue to fuel speculation that a White House run in 2016 looks like a go, as do prominent endorsements from politicians and celebrities." The on-screen graphic underlined the endorsements by displaying the pictures of four noteworthy Clinton supporters: Vogue magazine's Anna Wintour, Missouri Senator Clare McCaskill, actress Eva Longoria, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Later, Pegues did note that "few names in politics attract more opposition than Clinton", and that the "GOP leadership has her in its sights," and played a soundbite of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell attacking his former colleague at CPAC earlier in 2013. But he soon zeroed in on the children's library that's "not exactly a presidential library", as he put it, supposedly being a sign of the "inevitable.'

Even with his slant, the new CBS News journalist didn't reach the level of Andrea Mitchell, who gushed over the former secretary of state on Thursday's Today on NBC. However, like Mitchell, Pegues didn't mention any of the scandal the rocked the State Department under Clinton's leadership, including the terrorist attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, and his network's own scoop about the possible cover-up of sexual misconduct by an ambassador and security officials.

The full transcript of Jeff Pegues' report from Thursday's CBS This Morning:


NORAH O'DONNELL: The campaign in waiting for Hillary Clinton's widely-expected second run for the White House got some help this week. Two heavy hitters from the Obama campaign have joined the Ready for Hillary super PAC.

ANTHONY MASON: The group will start organizing and raising money for a potential presidential bid.

Our new CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues is at the suburban Washington office of Ready for Hillary, making his first appearance on 'CBS This Morning'. Jeff, good morning and welcome.

JEFF PEGUES: Good morning, Anthony and Norah. As you know, she hasn't even declared her candidacy yet, nor has she announced when she's going to make that decision. But if you look around this room, you see that her supporters have already made their decision with these signs and the stickers, two and a half years out from the first primary.

[CBS News Graphic: "Ready For Hillary? Obama Campaign Aides Join Exploratory Superpac"]

HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE (from June 13, 2013 speech at Clinton Global Initiative conference): (audience applauds) Thank you so much.

PEGUES: Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, her words are scrutinized for meaning.

CLINTON: We have seen over and over again the difference that women can make.

PEGUES: Applause lines, like that Tuesday at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, continue to fuel speculation that a White House run in 2016 looks like a go, as do prominent endorsements from politicians and celebrities. And she continues to invite the speculation on her own. Her recently-launched Twitter bio describes her future as 'TBD'. Her supporters are already building a growing campaign infrastructure, they say, whether she likes it or not.

[CBS News Graphic: "[Anna] Wintour; Sen. [Clare] McCaskill; [Eva] Longoria; Sen. [Kirsten] Gillibrand"]

MITCH STEWART, READY FOR HILLARY SUPERPAC ADVISER: Well, again, she has not announced.

PEGUES: Mitch Stewart is one of the architects behind President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns – now getting behind his former rival.

PEGUES (on-camera): Why so early?

STEWART: A big part of that decision-making process is making sure there's an organization out there to support that potential candidacy. And that's what we're doing. We're going to go out there and build that organization.

PEGUES (voice-over): Stewart signed up with the super PAC calling itself Ready for Hillary. Even as they unpack boxes and paint walls, they are lining up dollars and organizing supporters, and also preparing a counterattack against the opposition. Few names in politics attract more opposition than Clinton. Even the GOP leadership has her in its sights.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R), KENTUCKY (from speech to 2013 CPAC conference): Don't tell me Democrats are the party of the future when their presidential ticket for 2016 is shaping up to look like a rerun of the Golden Girls.

PEGUES: There are concerns that if she decides not to reprise her 2008 role as candidate Clinton, it may hurt Democrats' chances to keep the White House in 2016. But that is a notion that longtime Clinton friend Harold Ickes disputes.

HAROLD ICKES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, you're going to hear whining and sniveling from other potential candidates, but you hear this all of the time. I think it's a great benefit to the party.

PEGUES: With time on her side, Mrs. Clinton is sticking to a speaking circuit that recently included the opening of a children's library in Arkansas bearing her name. It's not exactly a presidential library, but it may be just another baby step toward what many believe is inevitable.

PEGUES (live): No comment from the Clinton camp on this story because by law, the super PAC and the Clinton candidacy – or potential candidacy – have to remain separate. But it's pretty clear from looking around this room what this super PAC is all about. And Anthony and Norah, while Clinton keeps up her busy schedule of speeches and book-writing, they're going to raise money here.

O'DONNELL: All right-

MASON: Jeff Pegues, thanks so much. I don't think they're going have a problem raising money, though.

O'DONNELL: No, and that super PAC wants to be ready and fully funded if and when Hillary decides to run.

MASON: It's also – it also, sort of, sends another message to Democrats – kind of, keep away until we make our decision, right?

O'DONNELL: No doubt, no doubt-

MASON: Yeah – a little elbow room there.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center