All three broadcast morning shows hailed Hillary Clinton’s convention speech on Wednesday, as ABC’s Diane Sawyer saw Clinton “bringing down the house,” while George Stephanopoulos declared that “she aced it. I think she's gone farther than any losing candidate has ever gone in a convention like this.”
Sawyer gushed: “If her candidacy put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, her speech probably punched a hole in it.”
Over on NBC, Andrea Mitchell fawned that Clinton’s “words were perfect. I don’t see how she could have found a better way of expressing herself and coming out strongly for Barack Obama.” On CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith was also enthusiastic: “Hillary Clinton stands and delivers....What a speech last night....If you appreciate stagecraft at any level you had to say she did a good job with that.”
Producers at all three morning shows seemed to have been smitten by Clinton’s jab at John McCain: “No way, no how, no McCain,” including the shot in their opening teases and again in their packaged reports.
On ABC, however, Sawyer and Stephanopoulos spent some time considering the idea that Clinton had actually sidestepped any kind of personal endorsement of Obama. Sawyer noted: “She did not use one adjective about Obama himself nor did she reverse the skepticism she'd expressed about him as commander in chief.”
Stephanopoulos tried to rationalize the omission: “Perhaps the calculation in the Clinton camp was that would have seemed inauthentic in some way and too calculated, too political.”
CBS’s Early Show minimized such thoughts during their 7am coverage, but at 7:40 brought aboard a former FBI agent to analyze Clinton’s body language. Joe Navarro told co-host Maggie Rodriguez that Clinton’s physical demeanor failed to reinforce her declarations of support for Obama. “The gestures, the non-verbals, that give us the emotion really weren’t there,” Navarro, a former FBI agent, explained. “This was not an impassioned speech.”
On NBC, Mitchell and NBC political director Chuck Todd also voice sympathy for Clinton, suggesting she’s been unfairly rushed to make her peace with Obama. “She took some time to grieve,” Mitchell argued. “But she got over it and she was more of a professional than the other one,” an obvious reference to Bill Clinton.
Todd added: “It took Ted Kennedy years to get over losing to Jimmy Carter.It took John McCain about seven years to get over losing to George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton is actually doing this at a faster pace than most primary losers.”
Now, some details from the Wednesday morning shows, all of which led with Clinton and ignored the keynote address of former Virginia Governor Mark Warner in their wrap-up pieces.
# ABC’s Good Morning America, as transcribed by MRC’s Justin McCarthy:
Opening tease at 7:00am EDT:
DIANE SAWYER: This morning, bringing down the house. Hillary Clinton gets cheers and tears as she gives a battle cry for her supporters....
ROBIN ROBERTS: Good morning to you, Diane. I'm here in Times Square, of course, on this Wednesday, August 27th. And, yes, the night belonged to Hillary Clinton greeted with a standing ovation that just wouldn't stop. Diane, it just kept going and going and going. It was something else.
DIANE SAWYER: And if her candidacy put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, her speech probably punched a hole in it.
In Sawyer’s piece re-capping Tuesday night’s speech:
SAWYER: But McCain forces have already noticed. She did not use one adjective about Obama himself nor did she reverse the skepticism she'd expressed about him as commander in chief. The strongest she said about him on foreign policy-
HILLARY CLINTON: That President Obama will end the war in Iraq responsibly, bring our troops home and begin to repair our alliances around the world.
Reviewing the speech with George Stephanopoulos:
DIANE SAWYER: And now for "The Bottom Line" this morning, once again our chief Washington correspondent, host of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. What did you think, George?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: This is the toughest speech at a convention to give, the runner-up's speech, and I think she aced it. I think she's gone farther than any losing candidate has ever gone in a convention like this.
SAWYER: And yet did she close the vulnerability that in some senses she helped raise when she was critical of him about the commander in chief issue during the, the primaries?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You pointed it out in your piece. No, that was the one omission in the speech, a direct line where she says Barack Obama is ready to lead. Now, perhaps the calculation in the Clinton camp was that would have seemed inauthentic in some way and too calculated, too political. The other thing that was a little bit surprising that you pointed this out as well. You know, in her speech she called Joe Biden pragmatic, tough and wise. There was no personal adjective to describe the man she spent so many months on the campaign trail with.
SAWYER: That's true. The McCain camp, of course, jumped right on it.
# CBS’s Early Show, as transcribed by the MRC’s Kyle Drennen:
Opening tease at 7am:
HARRY SMITH: Hillary Clinton stands and delivers....What a speech last night....If you appreciate stagecraft at any level you had to say she did a good job with that. We'll have much more on that in just a little bit, Mags.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I agree, Harry. She was as invigorated as I have ever seen her.
Beginning of convention re-cap story by Bill Plante:
BILL PLANTE: Good morning to you, Harry. Well, there was a question, a big question, and a huge cloud of doubt. Would Hillary Clinton, after fighting so long and hard for the nomination, wholeheartedly support Barack Obama? Well, last night in this arena you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief as the Senator from New York stepped up and let it rip.
During analysis with Democrat Joe Trippi and Republican Dan Bartlett:
HARRY SMITH: There you go. First things first. There really is this threshold that Hillary Clinton had to get over last night, in terms of being able to satisfy not only the Obama supporters, but especially those people who have been so loyal to her. From your perspective, did she get the job done?
JOE TRIPPI: Absolutely. I mean, I was -- I don't know what the Obama campaign could have hoped to be better than what she did last night. She brought them -- you know, the party to unity last night. And I also think she started to do the real contrast between Obama and McCain. Do those two -- those two jobs and leave everybody else, Biden and the rest of the -- and Obama himself to do the rest of the work.
SMITH: Yeah. From your perspective, sitting here watching this, it's been -- it's kind of interesting to see a convention unfold from the other side. We're hearing all of these people. We talked to somebody yesterday, a Democrat, first-time delegate, who actually is appearing in a John McCain ad. Do you, from your perspective, do you see a fissure in the granite here?
BARTLETT: Well, first of all, I think if you're a Republican watching this, and a lot of people were probably -- there was a lot of trepidation coming into this, thinking this could be such a great galvanizing moment for Barack Obama. And so far it's really been the Bill and Hillary show. And while last night she did a very effective job and it was electric in here for her. And I think the real question here is whether that will translate to him. In many respects, this election is a referendum on Barack Obama. And I think some people observe that it really wasn't a specific authoritative endorsement of Barack Obama as much as it was an endorsement of the Democratic agenda. And-
SMITH: Because she certainly reached down into her Democratic roots and said, 'I've got to be who I am and you have to join me on this.' You may -- I -- Dan may have a point here.
# NBC’s Today, as transcribed by the MRC’s Scott Whitlock:
Opening the show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Hey, Matt. You have to wonder how Hillary Clinton is feeling this morning. She had hoped to take center stage as the Democratic Party's nominee tomorrow night. Instead, she had to settle for speaking last night trying to persuade her supporters to back Barack Obama.
LAUER: Yeah, you know, she had a big smile on her face last night, Meredith, but it had to be a bittersweet moment for Senator Clinton to defer her dreams of going back to the White House, at least for now.
Story by David Gregory:
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Matt. In a rousing speech, Senator Clinton sought to unite the party behind Barack Obama, even as she took pains to preserve her own political future. She showed up and brought the house down. In the final chapter of her own historic race for the White House, Senator Clinton said the words Barack Obama needed to hear.
CLINTON: And whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president.
GREGORY: During the campaign, she complained about sexism. But at the convention, she was more playful in speaking to her staunchest supporters.
CLINTON: To my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Analyzing the speech with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd
MATT LAUER: This is going to be nitpicked. This speech is going to be analyzed and hyper-analyzed all day long. So, let's break it down to her words and her tone. How did she do with words?
MITCHELL: I think the words were perfect. I don't see how she could have found a better way of expressing herself and coming out strongly for Barack Obama....
LAUER: People asking why didn't Hillary Clinton make this definitive statement earlier? Was perhaps the reason she understands political theater better than anyone and she realized this was going to be a big night and the impact would be far greater than doing it on a Tuesday night after a primary months ago?
MITCHELL: Well, she did make that big statement at the building museum. They went to Unity, New Hampshire.
LAUER: A lot of people didn't buy it, though.
MITCHELL: Well- and she took some time to grieve. That really is what happened. She was bitter. She was unhappy. She really felt that they had blown it, blamed herself, blamed other people. There was a lot of tension. But she got over it and she was more of a professional than the other one.
TODD: Matt, it took Ted Kennedy years to get over losing to Jimmy Carter.
TODD: It took John McCain about seven years to get over losing to George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton is actually doing this at a faster pace than most primary losers.