CBS's Rodriguez: Americans ‘Loved’ Obama Speech; Jindal A ‘Debbie Downer’

Maggie Rodriguez, CBS While discussing President Obama’s Tuesday night address to Congress and the Republican response given by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez observed: "And Americans loved it. The polls show that they're very optimistic, and then out comes Bobby Jindal, Debbie Downer, saying ‘hated it, it's not going to work.’" Rodriguez made the remark while speaking with Democrat Dee Dee Myers and Republican Dan Bartlett. She turned to Bartlett and asked: "Do you think the Republican Party's taking the right approach, Dan, being so vocal with their objections?"

At the top of the show, Rodriguez interviewed Vice President Joe Biden and asked: "...the Republican party came out with their own charismatic, young, dynamic, ethnic spokesperson after the speech and said ‘we don't buy it, we're not on board.’ Are you taking any of their objections into account? Are any of their objections legitimate in your view?" Biden replied: "Sure. I'm sure there's -- there's some legitimate objections they have. But what I don't understand from Governor Jindal is, what would he do?...if you choose the inaction that Governor Jindal is talking about, how responsible is that? While people are just sinking into the abyss."

Prior to interviewing the Vice President, Rodriguez touted the CBS poll numbers showing Americans "loved" Obama’s speech: "Shortly after President Obama's address last night, CBS News and Knowledge Networks conducted a poll. Among the findings, 3/4 of those who watched say they believe the President's plans will make the economy better, 74%. Three out of four, say they believe Mr. Obama's plans will help the nation's housing crisis, 76%. And while about 1/3 before the speech believed that the President's plans would help them personally, after the speech, 51%, more than half, said they would be helped." What Rodriguez did not mention was that 38% of the poll respondents were Democrats, while only 26% were Republicans.

Debbie Downer graphicIn another segment, while talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, co-host Harry Smith echoed Rodriguez’s suggestion that it was risky for Republicans to oppose Obama: "It is interesting. Because you look at the poll numbers and the public is clearly buying what the President is selling, but as you watched that room last night, there were plenty of Republicans who were sitting on their hands, reluctant to stand up in certain parts of the speech. Are they doing that, do you think, at their own risk of peril?"

Here is the full transcript of Rodriguez speaking to Myers and Bartlett:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I'm joined by two CBS News consultants, Harry. Dee Dee Myers, who was President Clinton's Press Secretary, and Dan Bartlett, who was President George W. Bush's communications director. Good morning to you both.

DAN BARTLETT: Morning, Maggie.

DEE DEE MYERS: Good morning, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: You know, the first thing I noticed when President Obama got up there, boy, the Democrats really are in charge, that picture of the three of them, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Speaker Pelosi. They have all the power right now.

DEE DEE MYERS: They do, and the energy when, not just President Obama, but when his cabinet, and then Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice of the Supreme Court, entered the chamber, you could feel the enthusiasm mounting as the speech approached.

RODRIGUEZ: I never saw Nancy Pelosi so smiley, smiley during one of those speeches in my life. So different.


MYERS: Well, not in the last eight years.

BARTLETT: And they now have the keys to the kingdom and with that comes a lot of responsibility.

RODRIGUEZ: Responsibility. Are they up to the job, Dee Dee?

MYERS: Well, I mean, that remains to be seen. But I think, certainly, this president has had a very busy first five weeks, passing the huge stimulus package, beginning to lay out his other plans. And last night was about a couple of things, about, I think. Trying to connect his programs to the lives of the American people. It was about explaining how that's going to work. It was about laying out a broader agenda, saying not only do we need to fix the economy, but we have to do health care, we have to do education, and we have to do energy independence at the same time. And then, I think, he -- maybe the main overarching theme was 'we can do it.' It was a very hopeful speech. It was one that was loaded with responsibility and calls on the American people to be part of it, but it was hopeful.

RODRIGUEZ: And Americans loved it. The polls show that they're very optimistic, and then out comes Bobby Jindal, Debbie Downer, saying 'hated it, it's not going to work.' Do you think the Republican Party's taking the right approach, Dan, being so vocal with their objections?

BARTLETT: Well, what they have to do is clearly articulate how they would do things differently, but in a constructive way. If they are appearing to be the party of no, the American people are going to reject that.


BARTLETT: The challenge for Barack Obama, and for the Republicans for that matter, is that the steps that have to be taken in the coming days and weeks, whether it be the auto bailout, or even more money to banks, and what, really, Barack Obama was doing last night was preparing the country for some very difficult political choices. The public does not want to throw more money after bad, as they would say, and he was basically warning them that we're going to have to do it. Now, I agree with Dee Dee, he did it, in a very layman like term, did it -- explained to people why we have to take these unpopular steps, but the bottom line is, is what the Republicans are hoping is that his personal popularity will start matching the unpopularity of some of these bailout measures he's going to have to enact in the coming weeks and months.

RODRIGUEZ: It's not that they're hoping it fails so that they can be right, which could be the impression that some people can get.

BARTLETT: Not -- well, I'm talking a very -- I agree -- I mean in a very -- they're making a political calculation that the public is not as supportive of some of the measures he's going to have to take as they are of him personally. But I would agree, it would be a very dangerous road for the Republicans to go down if they just stand up every time and say 'no, no, no.' They have to have a constructive seat at the table, they have to be offering solutions.

RODRIGUEZ: In the last seconds-

MYERS: And right now the public sees President Obama as much more reaching out to the Republicans than the Republicans reaching out to him, by more than a 2-1 margin.

RODRIGUEZ: How much time do you think that he has before the tide turns and this optimism gives way to something else?

BARTLETT: Well, I know the polls show there's patience from the American people and I think broadly suggesting that there is patience. However, having worked in politics, and Dee Dee knows this as well, the more and more that this becomes President Obama's decisions, the more he's going inherit the challenges. I think the public is going to start growing weary if he has to continue to throw taxpayer dollars at a lot of institutions like the auto companies and such, so most people will say he's got until the mid-terms, two years. I think people should, by the fall of this year, start seeing light at the end of the tunnel. If not, I think they're going to grow very weary.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Dee Dee, Dan, thank you so much.

MYERS: Thank you, Maggie.


Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC