ABC's Sawyer Asks Hillary What Bill's Secret Pep Talk is

For the second day in a row, "Good Morning America" provided a gushing forum for Hillary Clinton's spin. On Tuesday's program, co-host Diane Sawyer asked the presidential candidate about her emotional display at a New Hampshire diner on Monday. The ABC journalist sympathetically wondered, "Is it different when a woman shows that kind of emotion and (sic) a man does?"

Sawyer certainly never broached the subject of whether Clinton contrived the wavering voice. Instead, she gingerly questioned, "Are you surprised so much is being made this morning?" Regarding the '08 candidate's recent defeat in Iowa, the GMA host carefully asked, "With those numbers coming in, what does President Clinton say to you at night or first thing in the morning? Is there a pep talk?" Sawyer followed up by speculating, "Does Chelsea write you notes and leave them under the door?"

Sawyer's tone also sounded eerily familiar to another ABC reporter. On December 19, 2007, "Nightline" co-host Cynthia McFadden spent a day with Clinton on the campaign trail. During a fawning interview, she queried, "There's never a night, when you go back to whatever hotel room, whatever city you're in that night, and crawl in a ball and say, 'I just, this just hurts too much?"

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:02am on January 8, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: But let's take a look now at what has become, as of this morning, the emblem of pressure and the passion in this long contest. As you know, yesterday Hillary Clinton welled up with tears while talking to voters at a café. And all night long, people have been talking about the emotion on the campaign trail. Is it different for men? Is it different for women? I had a chance to ask these questions of the senator herself when I talked to her.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: I just don't want to see us fall backwards, you know, so -- you know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening. And we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like, who's up, who's down.

SAWYER: What was that all about?

CLINTON: I'm always being touched by people who come up and say, "I'm counting on you, or I need you," or "I'm with you." And I would be worried about myself if I didn't have some kind of, you know, feelings that this was important, that this mattered, there were a lot of people who needed someone to be their champion.

CLINTON: [Clip from crying incident]: And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our county. But some of us are right and some of us are wrong.

SAWYER: Is it different when a woman shows that kind of emotion and (sic) a man does?

CLINTON: Well, you know, men do it all of the time. And we've had that going back, at least since Ronald Reagan, I guess, and certainly since then. Now, as a woman, I know that I've got to be, you know, always presenting a very, sort of, organized front, and nobody has ever said that that wasn't one of my strong suits. But I also, I'm a person, much to some people's surprise. And what gets me up in the morning is not the next speech I'm going to make, and not the interview I'm going to do it's whether I'm going to help somebody.

SAWYER: Are you surprised so much is being made this morning? People saying--

CLINTON: Oh, Diane, I don't know why. I feel like if I breathe deeply, it's going to be a lead story. And that's just something that, you know, goes with the territory.

SAWYER: Senator Edwards said, "I don't have anything to say about that, but I think what we need is a commander in chief-- in a commander in chief--.

JOHN EDWARDS: --is strength and resolve. And it's-- You know, presidential campaigns are tough business. But, being president of the United States is also a very tough business.

CLINTON: You know, I don't think anybody doubts my toughness. That's never been one of the criticisms leveled at me. And so, again, you know, they can say whatever they want to say. They will anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE LOCAL ANCHOR: Polls showing Barack Obama increasing his lead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: If Barack Obama beats her here, his momentum may truly be unstoppable.

SAWYER: Is there a difference in coming in second and third in New Hampshire? Big difference?

CLINTON: You know what? I think this is all just beginning to gel. Maybe I, you know, have a very sort of calm and confident attitude about it, because I always planned to run a campaign that goes all of the way through the nominating process. That's what I'm going to do.

SAWYER: Nothing will stop that? Nothing will derail it?

CLINTON: No. Nothing will stop that, because it's only now that I think we're drawing the comparisons and contrasts. You know, for most of the year I've been running against myself. And, you know, some days I did better than other days. And so now it's finally time when we can actually draw contrast with the other candidates. They are obviously, you know, in kind of a buddy system here and that's fine. For both Senator Edwards and Senator Obama, it's been pretty much a free ride. And that's fine. I don't mind, you know, having to get up there and take all of the scrutiny. But at some point, the free ride ends. Maybe it ends now. Maybe it ends in a moth. Maybe it ends in the general election. You cannot be elected president if you cannot withstand the tough questions. You know, Senator Obama spends hit time railing against lobbyists and head of the campaign here is a lobbyist.

SAWYER: He said that's a state lobbyist.

CLINTON: Oh, that's, that's a very big distinction! Somebody who is lobbying for Pharma, which is the big pharmaceutical lobby, the biggest in Washington, is not going to be influenced because one of their employees who is working in the state -- this is nonsense. It's an artificial distinction. And he knows that, but he's expects everybody else to nod their heads and say, "oh, yeah. That makes a lot of sense."

CLINTON: [From speech]: I know what it takes. Some people --

SAWYER: With those numbers coming in, what does President Clinton say to you at night or first thing in the morning? Is there a pep talk?

CLINTON: Well, you know, he's been incredibly supportive. And he, he understands the electoral process better than anybody. But also understands the job of being president. And every day, he says, "You know, I really have confidence in you in being the president that America needs." And that's more important to me than any kind of pep talk or any kind of advice.

SAWYER: Does Chelsea write you notes and leave them under the door?

CLINTON: No, just gives me hugs. Just gives me hugs. That's the best kind of reinforcement. But, she's had a good time out on the campaign trail.

SAWYER: And, by the way, we had a chance to see Chelsea Clinton at the phone banks calling up, making the pitch for her mom. Listen.

CHELSEA CLINTON: Hi, Bill and Jody, this is Chelsea Clinton calling and I'm reaching out to you in the hopes that you have decided to support my mom tomorrow in the primary. Thank you. That was a wrong number. That was not the person I thought it was. But I hope Bill and Judy do support my mom.

SAWYER: Love it when you leave a message.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Perils of phone banking.

SAWYER: That's right. Could be the corner deli.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's site.