"Good Morning America" journalists celebrated the endorsement of Senator Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday's program. An ABC graphic for reporter John Berman's segment did not hold back. It asked, "Obama's Best Weekend Ever? Powell and Donors Boost Obama." Co-host Diane Sawyer teased the story by announcing, "This morning, Senator Obama's banner weekend: Record breaking crowds, cash and the endorsement heard around the world." [audio excerpt here]
Introducing Berman, Sawyer called Powell's endorsement, which occurred on Sunday's "Meet the Press," a "booster rocket." Berman also highlighted the fact that Obama's campaign has a "bank account that swelled by a record-shattering $150 million." Of course there was no mention of the influence of money in politics or the Democratic presidential candidate's now broken pledge to take public financing.
In a follow-up segment, former Democratic operative-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared to effusively describe the nod by Powell as "huge" and state, "It's a real signal to moderate Republicans and independents that Barack Obama is okay."
The three evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC showed similar excitement on Sunday.
A transcript of the John Berman segment, which aired a 7:02am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: This morning, Senator Obama's banner weekend: Record breaking crowds, cash and the endorsement heard around the world.
COLIN POWELL: He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.
SAWYER: The Republicans come roaring back with tough allegations and some slide splitting antics on Saturday night.
["Saturday Night Live" clip]
SAWYER: Because as we said, as Robin just said, it's two years of campaigning and now 15 days before America votes. And Senator Obama got a booster rocket from none other than Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell this weekend, a Republican and a friend of John McCain. ABC's John Berman is in Chicago with more on that. John?
ABC GRAPHIC: Obama's Best Weekend Ever? Powell and Donors Boost Obama
JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, Diane. Well, Obama aides swear the senator didn't know for sure about the Colin Powell endorsement until he watched it on television. That's a heck of a way to wake up in the morning and an aggressive way to start this big 15 day push until the election. It was a weekend of big numbers for Barack Obama, a crowd of more than 100,000 in St. Louis.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: All I can say is wow.
BERMAN: A campaign bank account that swelled by a record-shattering $150 million. But the biggest number might have been one, one big endorsement.
OBAMA: I'm beyond honored. I'm deeply humbled to have the support of General Colin Powell.
BERMAN: The retired four-star general and Secretary of State under George W. Bush was effusive in his phrase.
POWELL: I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change. And that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama.
BERMAN: Though he said he admired John McCain, Powell laid out a meticulous indictment of his old friend. On the economy-
POWELL: I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having.
BERMAN: On the tone of McCain's campaign.
POWELL: To focus on people like Mr. Ayers, these trivial issues, for the purpose of suggesting that somehow Mr. Obama would have some kind of terrorist inclinations, I thought that was over the top.
BERMAN: McCain did his best to brush off the sting of the news.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: And I'm also very pleased to have the endorsement of four former secretaries of state.
BERMAN: And as for McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, Powell also had harsh words.
POWELL: I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.
BERMAN: Palin, meanwhile, kept up her attacks. Continuing to insist that Obama's tax policies will lead to a slippery slope.
SARAH PALIN: Barack Obama calls it spreading the wealth. Joe Biden calls higher taxes patriotic. But Joe the plumber and Ed the Dairyman, I believe that they think it sounds more like socialism.
BERMAN: Meanwhile, in an almost surreal moment, McCain seemed serene when asked if he ever thought about defeat.
MCCAIN: I've had a wonderful life with a wonderful family and daughters and sons that I'm so proud of and a life that's been blessed. I'm the luckiest guy you have ever interviewed and will ever interview. I'm the most fortunate man on earth and I thank you God for it every single day.
BERMAN: Obama is on his way to Florida today where he'll share a stage tonight with Hillary Clinton. It's the first time they've campaigned together in months. Robin?