Wednesday’s CBS Mornings saw the latest installment in their foolhardy mission to save their team ahead of the 2022 midterm elections by fretting Arizonans haven’t made where candidates stand on the legitimacy of the 2020 election a top priority. As a result, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Republican senatorial candidate Blake Masters are neck-and-neck with their Democratic rivals Katie Hobbs and Senator Mark Kelly (D), respectively.
Co-host Tony Dokoupil started things off with news about “two key new term races in the state of Arizona...that are tightening dramatically as Election Day draws near” with Lake and Hobbs tied at 49 percent and Kelly with a three-point lead over Masters in the new CBS News battleground tracker.
Instead of diving into why it’s a tight race or why Republicans have bridged the gap, Dokoupil made it about 2020 and tossed to correspondent Ed O’Keefe by asking whether 2020 is a concern of voters (like it is for the press): “Now Lake and Masters have both spread lies about the last election. Ed O’Keefe is in Tempe, Arizona, for us. Ed, good morning. Dare I ask, how are those lies resonating with voters?”
O’Keefe didn’t have any promising news for CBS’s liberal viewers:
As you mentioned, those Republican candidates, others on the ballot also pushing those lies about the 2020 election. And it's one of the reasons we track things in Arizona so closely. And yet, according to our new battleground tracker, most voters say they don't want that to be the main focus of the campaign.
He led off the voice-over portion with Lake’s firebrand of a primary night speech promising “to take a sledgehammer to these damn electronic voting machines” to note that she’s “fully embrac[ed] the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.”
While she has made it a major talking point, O’Keefe noted that she’s “not emphasizing that...as much” now she’s a general election candidate before going to a sympathetic soundbite from Kobbs warning Lake and her allies “could overturn the will of the voters in future elections.”
O’Keefe then cued up another sad trombone for leftists in which 55 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents, and 17 percent of Democrats said a candidate’s 2020 stance didn’t matter:
But denying the results of the 2020 election isn't a top concern for voters in Arizona. According to the new CBS News battleground tracker poll, more than half of even Republicans say it doesn't matter.
After a few moments on the Arizona secretary of state race featuring Republican Mark Finchem (who was in Washington on January 6) and Democrat Adrian Fontes, O’Keefe turned to the left’s other calling card of abortion with CBS’s poll claiming abortion 60 percent of Arizona voters believe should be “legal in all” or “most cases” on the heels of a judge upholding a state abortion ban.
Naturally, he went to a disgruntled Republican to back up his case and only following that did he tell the truth about what matters to Arizonans: “And in the land of canyons, cacti, and the Cardinals, just like everywhere else, the economy and inflation are the top concerns.”
Going back to the studio, O’Keefe concluded with footnote about how “[i]mmigration is also a big issue of concern here in Arizona, perhaps no surprise given that border towns continue to see a surge in migrants.”
CBS’s lament that voters aren’t making a candidate’s stance on 2020 results a top priority in 2022 was made possible thanks to advertisers such as Apple and Progressive. Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant CBS transcript from October 5, click “expand.”
October 5, 2022
7:20 a.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Coming Up; Arizona Midterm Election]
TONY DOKOUPIL: Plus, we are in the state of Arizona where the latest CBS News polling shows that Republicans are gaining ground in two key races. We're going to show what's on voters' minds.
7:30 a.m. Eastern
DOKOUPIL: And we are talking about two key new term races in the state of Arizona. Races that are tightening dramatically as Election Day draws near. Let's go to the numbers. According to a newly released CBS News battleground tracker, it is an even split in the race for governor. 49 percent each for Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake. Democrat Mark Kelly has a slight edge over Republican Blake Masters on the Senate side. Now Lake and Masters have both spread lies about the last election. Ed O’Keefe is in Tempe, Arizona, for us. Ed, good morning. Dare I ask, how are those lies resonating with voters?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: America Decides Campaign ‘22; Close Races in Arizona; Polls Show Tightening Race in AZ With About a Month Until Midterms]
ED O’KEEFE: Well, Tony, good morning. Good to see you. As you mentioned, those Republican candidates, others on the ballot also pushing those lies about the 2020 election. And it's one of the reasons we track things in Arizona so closely. And yet, according to our new battleground tracker, most voters say they don't want that to be the main focus of the campaign.
KARI LAKE: When I'm governor, we're going to take a sledgehammer to these damn electronic voting machines.
O’KEEFE: Kari Lake won the Republican primary for Arizona governor by fully embracing the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
LAKE: And they certified a corrupt election, and that's the problem.
DEBATE MODERATOR: You would not have certified our election?
LAKE: No, I would not have.
O’KEEFE: But now she's locked in a close general election and not emphasizing that election as much.
LAKE: We're going to do what we did in — in the primary which is go out and vote and take our friends and get out there and vote like our lives depended on it.
O’KEEFE: Her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, warns Lake is too dangerous for Arizona.
KATIE HOBBS: All of these people that Trump has given his full endorsement to because they support his big lie — [SCREEN WIPE] — they could change the rules, and they could overturn the will of the voters in future elections.
O’KEEFE: But denying the results of the 2020 election isn't a top concern for voters in Arizona. According to the new CBS News battleground tracker poll, more than half of even Republicans say it doesn't matter.
MARK FINCHEM: We have so many votes outside of the law.
O’KEEFE: It's the main focus for Republican Mark Finchem. He was in Washington, seen in the crowd on January 6th, 2021. And now he's running to be Arizona's secretary of state. It's a job that would put him in charge of elections ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign.
FINCHEM: That's why they’re — I'm a threat to the left. [SCREEN WIPE] And they know they've got somebody who is not going to let go of this.
O’KEEFE: Democratic candidate Adrian Fontes is especially concerned about what could happen if Finchem wins and Donald Trump runs again for president.
ADRIAN FONTES: He may not certify an election that Donald Trump doesn't win in 2024, as well. This isn't the most important election in our lifetimes. It could be the last free election we have in our lifetimes.
O’KEEFE: Our tracker also finds most think abortion should be legal, and that comes as a judge has reinstated a law dating back to 1864 that ends abortion access in Arizona and would jail doctors performing them. That decision upset longtime Republican Ethier Carter so much that she's leaving the GOP.
FORMER STATE SENATOR HEATHER CARTER: When you talk to women in Arizona and they share their personal stories, one on one, many of them are using this issue as the deciding factor in the 2022 election.
O’KEEFE: And in the land of canyons, cacti, and the Cardinals, just like everywhere else, the economy and inflation are the top concerns.
SCOTT GOOCH: I see it as a businessman that we're going to hurt for the next ten years. This giant wave that we're on is going to affect us.
O’KEEFE: Immigration is also a big issue of concern here in Arizona, perhaps no surprise given that border towns continue to see a surge in migrants. And on the issue of the 2020 elections, there's this from the poll, a majority of voters say — the vast majority say they want the next governor, whoever she is, to accept the results of future elections no matter which party wins. Nate?
NATE BURLESON: Ed, I used to live in Arizona and it's divided views around the country, just like it is in AZ. We appreciate you.