CBS This Morning on Tuesday played up how Mitt Romney's campaign had to conduct "a little more damage control" after the GOP presidential candidate held an event at a popular Miami establishment owned by a convict. Correspondent Jan Crawford highlighted how "Romney held an event yesterday at a well-known restaurant in Miami whose owner - get this - pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution in 1999, and was sentenced to three years in prison."
The program was the only Big Three morning newscast on Tuesday to report on the story. By contrast, CBS found it completely un-newsworthy when the other networks mentioned in October 1996 that convicted cocaine smuggler Jorge Cabrera had gained access to Al Gore and Hillary Clinton in 1995 after making a $20,000 donation to the Democrats. Why report this and omit that?
Earlier in her report, Crawford highlighted the results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll that "shows Americans are split over Romney's choice of [Paul] Ryan. Thirty-nine percent call his selection excellent or pretty good, while 42 percent say it's only fair or poor. But the good news for Ryan: 58 percent don't know who he is." On Tuesday, Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner pointed out something that the correspondent didn't mention, that "just 18 percent of voters rate the Ryan pick as 'poor'. In other words, 63 percent of Americans rate the Ryan pick between fair (24 percent), good (20 percent) and excellent (19 percent)." Carroll also noted the "super small (488) sample size" of the poll and its "huge +/- 6 [percent] margin of error."
The CBS correspondent also zeroed in on Ryan's "serious plan to dramatically cut the budget, rein in spending, and reform entitlement programs like Medicare." In reality, the Wisconsin Republican's proposed budget actually increases federal spending, but at a slower rate than President Obama's budget plan.
Near the end of her report, Crawford highlighted how "not all Republicans are exactly jumping up and down over this selection. Some congressional Democrats already are trying to link their Republican opponents to Ryan's controversial plan on Medicare. One Republican even felt the need to put out a statement yesterday, saying that she will never agree to cuts in Medicare."
The full transcript of Jan Crawford's report from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:
REBECCA JARVIS: And Mitt Romney will bring his own bus tour to Ohio today, as he finishes a four-day trip to swing states. On Monday, he told voters in Florida that he and Ryan will do everything they can to make America stronger.
Jan Crawford is in Ft. Lauderdale this morning.
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, here in Florida, Romney really did his best to keep his focus on the struggling economy. That's a major campaign theme. An issue he pretty much stayed away from and didn't get into any detail was Medicare, as he tries to figure out how he's going to talk about how his plan is different from his running mate's.
[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Romney, Ryan In Swing-State Campaign Push"]
CRAWFORD (voice-over): Campaigning in the key state of Florida, aside from a brief assurance, Mitt Romney barely mentioned what would affect people here more than any other place in the country.
MITT ROMNEY, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (from campaign event): We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare.
CRAWFORD: Two days after announcing his new running mate, in a campaign theme of making tough choices to save America's future, it's proving to be a tricky line for Romney to walk. Paul Ryan, so far, isn't trying the same balancing act. In his very first speech as the V.P. nominee, he said this:
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is our duty to save the American dream for our children and theirs.
CRAWFORD: Ryan backs that up with a serious plan to dramatically cut the budget, rein in spending, and reform entitlement programs like Medicare. But Romney, perhaps cautious of polls that show people like the current system, struck a more cautious and vague note on change. Romney's website says Ryan's plan 'almost precisely mirrors Mitt's ideas.' But pressed on Monday, Romney wouldn't even say that.
ROMNEY: The items we agree on, I think, outweigh any differences there may be. We haven't gone through piece by piece and said, oh, here's a place where there's a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Paul Ryan! (audience cheers and applauds)
CRAWFORD: With Romney in Florida, Ryan made his first solo appearance as the GOP vice presidential candidate at the Iowa State Fair. He got a warm welcome, but his speech was interrupted by hecklers.
RYAN: Iowans and Wisconsinites – we like to be respectful of one another and peaceful with one another and listen to each other. These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin. (audience cheers and applauds)
CRAWFORD: A new poll shows Americans are split over Romney's choice of Ryan. Thirty-nine percent call his selection excellent or pretty good, while 42 percent say it's only fair or poor. But the good news for Ryan: 58 percent don't know who he is, and he has strong support from Republicans who need to turn out in November.
[CBS News Graphic: "USA Today/Gallup Poll: Immediate Reaction To Vice Presidential Pick: Excellent/Pretty Good, 39%; Only Fair/Poor; 42%; Margin of Error: +/- 4 Pts."]
RUSH LIMBAUGH: And the decision was made somewhere that we're going to go head-first up against it. We're not going to skirt it with a traditional campaign. We're going to take it straight to them.
CRAWFORD (on-camera): But not all Republicans are exactly jumping up and down over this selection. Some congressional Democrats already are trying to link their Republican opponents to Ryan's controversial plan on Medicare. One Republican even felt the need to put out a statement yesterday, saying that she will never agree to cuts in Medicare.
And then, yesterday, a little more damage control the Romney campaign had to do. Romney held an event yesterday at a well-known restaurant in Miami whose owner - get this - pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution in 1999, and was sentenced to three years in prison. For 'CBS This Morning,' I'm Jan Crawford in Dania Beach, Florida.