While interviewing three generations of voters in one Florida family, "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer on Thursday pushed back when the mother of the household assailed Senator Joe Biden's claim that paying higher taxes is patriotic. After Marylee Gizzi described the "great offense" she took at Biden's remarks, Sawyer parroted Obama talking points and retorted, "He argues, you know, he's just going back to the Reagan tax cuts. It's not a penalty."
Continuing to defend the Democratic ticket's economic plan, she haltingly added, "He would argue disproportionately advantaged, the wealthy in this country, who have increased their share, more than the middle class has increased its share." After Gizzi lauded the "incredible" accomplishments of Sarah Palin, Sawyer looked for some kind of negative assessment: "There were a lot of people who brought a lot to the table. You must have a sense of whether you'd like her to be president, should something happen to him [McCain]." At no point did Sawyer attempt to grill the Obama-supporting daughter into saying something negative about her choice for president.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:16am on October 30, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: There are battleground states. And there are battleground families who love each other a lot. But nonetheless divide on their voting, sometimes by generations. And I had a chance to go into a wonderful home and sit down with three women who are still talking it out. They welcomed us into the home. Three generations. Mother.
MARYLEE GIZZI (mother): Diane, I'm Mary Lee Gizzi.
SAWYER: Daughter and grandmother. So, you have 16 grand kids?
MARY LOU BURGESS (Grandmother): Yes, ma'am.
SAWYER: Two can vote.
BURGESS: Two can vote.
SAWYER: And how are they voting?
SHAINA ANDERSON (Daughter): Well, I'm a registered Democrat who is voting for Barack Obama.
SAWYER: And are you thinking, how did I go wrong?
BURGESS: No, I really don't. I believe that they can make up their own minds.
SAWYER: But you are voting-
BURGESS: I'm voting for McCain.
GIZZI: I'm voting for John McCain.
SAWYER: Now, what's the difference between the two of you and how you see the world that you're so sure you're for Obama? And you're so sure you're for McCain?
BURGESS: I think it's age, Diane.
SAWYER: But what part of age? What is-
BURGESS: I don't know. What is it, Shaina.
ANDERSON: I'm voting for Obama for my future. I think my grandmother is in a place where she's able to vote, yes, for her future. But I'm of the 18 to 24-year-old age bracket that has our entire lives ahead of us.
GIZZI: I'm a registered Democrat. I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries in the state of Florida. And we all know how that turned out. What I so liked about Hillary was the incredible coterie of women that she surrounded herself with.
SAWYER: Does this mean that Sarah Palin had brought you to John McCain?
GIZZI: No. No. I had definitely made up my mind about John McCain before Sarah Palin.
SAWYER: And how does she influence your decision?
GIZZI: She does not influence my decision. I am not going to ever disparage a working mother and a working woman. And a governor of such, you know- of a state of this country. I think she's incredible, what she's achieved. Was she the best choice that John McCain could have made? I don't know.
SAWYER: There were a lot of people who brought a lot to the table. You must have a sense of whether you'd like her to be president, should something happen to him.
GIZZI: I'm confident in John McCain's ability to create an environment of qualified advisers and cabinet members that will ease any transition she might experience, should anything happen to John McCain.
SAWYER: Marylee said a big factor, taxes.
GIZZI: When we hear Joe Biden make comments to the effect that he would consider it unpatriotic of Americans who made in excess of, I believe, it's $250,000, is his thing, he would consider them unpatriotic not to want to, really, pay more taxes and spread the wealth. I take great offense to that. I don't understand why one bracket of society needs to be penalized for working hard.
SAWYER: He argues, you know, he's just going back to the Reagan tax cuts. It's not a penalty. He would argue disproportionately advantaged, the wealthy in this country, who have increased their share, more than the middle class has increased its share.
GIZZI: But, Diane, I don't know anyone who is that wealthy. You know, we're not wealthy.
SAWYER: And something else. Marylee's father served in Vietnam. One of the most profound disagreements about the three women, across three generations, is the war in Iraq.
ANDERSON: I have friends who are married to military servicemen and who have served terms in Iraq. However, these women who are married to these servicemen, they support their husbands. But they do not support the war. And I can tell you that one of them I spoke to the other day, is voting Barack Obama. She wants her husband home.
GIZZI: I don't think McCain wants us to stay one day longer in Iraq than absolutely necessary.
ANDERSON: He does though.
GIZZI: I think he wants to leave with a completed job well done. And let's not just abandon the people in Iraq. And let's- let's leave with our heads held high.
ANDERSON: And that to you implies staying in until John McCain has tentatively set, 2013, when we will possibly have most of the men home.
GIZZI: Yeah, I don't think that's what he said.
ANDERSON: That's explicitly what he said.
GIZZI: No. I don't agree with that. I don't think that's his goal. We just need to find the best way- the best way to leave, where everyone- everyone has a chance at coming out with their heads held high here, Shaina.
SAWYER: Okay. [Laughs at the tension in the room.] And we're joined by their neighbor. A woman who says she's so undecided, she's kind of the swingest [sic] of the swing voters.
KIM DENBESTE: I actually went to the voting poll, to vote. Was standing in line. And could not cast my ballot.
SAWYER: She said she was going to watch Obama's paid 30-minute infomercial. We asked her if we could call. Was he speaking directly to her? Are you going to watch tonight?
SAWYER: Can we call you and see if you make up your mind tonight?
DENBESTE: All right. I'll see how I feel.
SAWYER: And we called her. We called her. Her name is Kim. She watched. She said she liked the half hour. But she needs one more day to make up her mind.