Bob Schieffer all but broke out the death certificate for Mitt Romney's campaign on Tuesday's CBS Evening News and Wednesday's CBS This Morning, emphasizing the negative impact of the secretly-recorded videos released by the left-wing magazine Mother Jones: "I just can't think of anything that he could have said that could have hurt his cause more than what he said."
Schieffer claimed that "this was just an extraordinary moment," and later added that "it would seem to confirm the perception that a lot of people have, and it seems to confirm the image that the Obama campaign has been pushing...that he is out of touch, that...he doesn't have to deal with the kind of problems that other people do...I think it's a very serious thing here."
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley brought on the Face the Nation host for just over a minute. The veteran journalist wasted little time in playing up its impact, and cited two Republican-leaning pundits to support his point:
SCHIEFFER: Scott, I'll tell you, for a candidate, who has fought the perception from the very beginning he's just a rich guy, who doesn't understand the average folks, I cannot imagine what he could have said that would have hurt his cause more. As the very Republican Bill Kristol, editor of the very Republican Weekly Standard, and conservative columnist David Brooks have pointed out today, the 47 percent of the people who pay no federal income tax are not all moochers - not by a long shot. Many are traditional Republican supporters: old people living on Social Security; retired members of the military; as well as poor families who, once they are docked for payroll, state, and local taxes, just don't make enough money to owe federal taxes.
When Romney says he can't worry about these people, because he'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives, you have to wonder if he actually knew who he was talking to. Maybe he didn't mean it the way it sounded, but whatever he meant, writing off half the electorate is just not smart politics.
Over twelve hours later, Schieffer gave extended versions of the same points to anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell on CBS This Morning. O'Donnell assisted her colleague by spotlighting Karl Rove's reaction to the issue:
SCHIEFFER: ...I tell you, this is – this was just an extraordinary moment. I mean, you know, if there was one thing that Mitt Romney has been fighting from the very beginning, Charlie, it was that he's this rich guy who's, sort of, out of touch with the rest of America. I mean, we went through the thing - the car elevators in his vacation home; he said before, I'm not worried about the poor.
I just can't think of anything that he could have said that could have hurt his cause more than what he said, because it just seemed to confirm that he really hadn't – I mean, I just wonder, did he understand who he was talking about? I mean, when you write off half the electorate and say, well, there's no way I'm going get their vote, and then, you say – you hear him say, you know, these people won't take responsibility for their own lives – I mean, did he understand who he was talking about? Retired people on Social Security, retired military families – a lot of those people were Republican voters and were for him. So, I think he's got a lot of work to do to dig out of this hole, and I don't think he's out of it yet.
NORAH O'DONNELL: You know, Bob, Karl Rove, who is involved in a super PAC that helps fund campaign ads that support Mitt Romney's election – I mean, even he said Americans who don't pay income taxes are part of the GOP coalition. So there – it's not just pundits and columnists. You have strategists, like Karl Rove, who suggested this is a problem. Do you think it changes the dynamic of this race? Is this a turning point, or can Romney recover?
SCHIEFFER: I don't know. I sincerely do not know the answer to that question, but I think Karl Rove is right. You've also noticed Linda McMahon, who's running for the Senate, in a very tight Senate race up in Connecticut – she said, not my view. Scott Brown, who's in that tight Senate race up in Massachusetts – you might have expected this from him. He's the much more liberal Republican since [sic] some of the other candidates out there this year. He said, you know, that was not his view. This is a serious problem. I mean, why – I mean, you – go back to the question. Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal this morning, says it's an incompetent campaign. That may be a little bit strong, but you have to wonder, what was the thinking behind this? Why would someone say something like this? It takes you back to, you know, why would you – it's just – I can't figure out why anyone would have said this.
ROSE: Well, he seemed not to know whether to double down, on one side, or try to move on, and you find the situation in which even the people that he listens to seem to be concerned about this, and it seems, in this case, to, in a sense, go to the heart, as they say, of a gaffe where it simply confirms what the story that has been – being told by the opposition says.
SCHIEFFER: Well, exactly – I mean, it would seem to confirm the perception that a lot of people have, and it seems to confirm the image that the Obama campaign has been pushing. This is what the Obama people want people to think about Mitt Romney - that he is out of touch, that – you know, he doesn't have to deal with the kind of problems that other people do. And so, this – I think it's a very serious thing here.
This is the second time in less than a week that Schieffer has been caught hyping supposedly positive news for President Obama. Five days earlier, he trumpeted "some of the best polling news that the President has seen in quite a while" on CBS Evening News, even though one of the figures he played up has remained the same since July 2012.