According to "Nightline" host Terry Moran, Iowa voters are listening to Barack Obama's "real argument that he is tomorrow, a fresh face who represents a real change from our bitter, polarized politics." The ABC anchor, who profiled the Democratic candidate for Tuesday's edition of the program, spent part of the interview interpreting the feelings of caucus voters. He gushed, "...You get the sense they know they might be part of something big here, something historic." After listening to one Iowan laud Obama's leadership, he prompted the man: "It would be an historic thing, Barack Obama?"
Upon noting that Obama is "hitting his stride on the stump in this state after some poor reviews earlier in the campaign," Moran allowed that the senator is "not a perfect candidate." However, a November 2006 "Nightline" segment might lead viewers to wonder which "poor reviews" he's referring to. Then, as with the November 26, 2007 piece, Moran spent the day with Obama. For that report, the ABC journalist gushed that Obama is "an American political phenomenon." Just as he would more than a year later, Moran speculated as to what the voters were thinking:
TERRY MORAN: And the question you can sense on everyone's mind, as they listen so intently to him, is he the one? Is Barack Obama the man, the black man, who could lead the Democrats back to the White House and maybe even unite the country?"
Obama did get one rather sharp line at journalist Moran. Following five questions from the reporter about whether a loss in Iowa would doom his campaign, the Illinois politician shifted the focus to Hillary Clinton. He retorted, "...All I know is you guys have been measuring the curtains for a while and you're telling me she can get away with not winning Iowa?"
At the close of the segment, Moran showed more deference to Hillary Clinton by noting, "Well, today, the jabs continued even before the Clinton campaign saw our entire interview, they responded with this." He then proceeded to read a prepared statement from the Clinton campaign slamming Obama for lack of experience.
A partial transcript of the two-part segment, which aired at 11:11pm on November 26, follows:
TERRY MORAN: And back now to Barack Obama. When I spent the day with him in Iowa over the weekend, you could sense the excitement he nearly always generates, but the constant campaigning still can take a toll and he still has a lot to prove. Out on the campaign trail with Barack Obama, some things are getting a little old, like lunch.
BARACK OBAMA [To campaign aide]: Is it chicken or fish?
AIDE: Chicken. Chicken.
OBAMA: Is it chicken?
AIDE: We got rice for a change.
OBAMA: We've got rice? Yeah!
MORAN: Whatever he's eating, it is working for Obama as he is hitting his stride on the stump in this state after some poor reviews earlier in the campaign.
OBAMA: We've got enough folks like that In Washington. We don't need another politician who is not saying what he thinks.
MORAN: He's not a perfect candidate. He can, like all of them, drone on a bit here and there, but he's clearly having fun.
OBAMA [To a group of teenage supporters]: Thanks so much, everybody.
MORAN: And some of that fun is coming at Hillary and Bill Clinton's expense. Like this little jab, a reference to Hillary's staff getting caught planting a question in the crowd.
OBAMA: All right. This is the fun part. We've got some time for questions and answers. These questions have not been pre-screened or pre-determined. So, you just give me your best shot.
MORAN: Or there's this answer to this questioner later on in the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We asked other presidents who were running, did they inhale? Is that--
OBAMA: I did. It's not something I'm proud of. It's a mistake as a young man, but, you know? I mean not going to -- I never understood that line. The point was to inhale. That was the point.
MORAN: One reason Obama is getting tough in Iowa now is because he has, like others, bet the farm here. One of the things you're telling voters here is that Iowans will choose the next leader of the free world.
MORAN: Sounds to me like you're saying if you lose here, you're done.
OBAMA: No, but what I think is true -- and this is true of all candidates, and not just me, I think if you don't do well here in Iowa it's going to be hard to make up for it later. Just because the calendar now is so compressed, that I think it's actually has magnified the influence of the early states.
MORAN: But are you also saying that if Hillary can't be stopped here, she's not going to be stopped?
OBAMA: Well, there's another way of looking at it. If I can't be stopped here --
MORAN: But that Iowa is do or die? So, if you don't--
OBAMA: Look, I don't think anything is do or die, but I will say is this. I think that you have to do well. If you don't make a certain cut in Iowa, I think you're going to have problems elsewhere.
MORAN: But it's not necessarily first?
OBAMA: Oh, I don't think you have to be first, but I do think that you've got, you've got to do well. And certainly, I would suggest that the overwhelming favorite who has been touted as inevitable over the last six months better win Iowa. Don't you think?
MORAN: Expectations game on her?
OBAMA: I mean-- Well, that's all I know is you guys have been measuring the curtains for a while and you're telling me she can get away with not winning Iowa?
MORAN: But Obama still must answer a fundamental question. Is he ready? At 46 he has been in the Senate less than three years.
OBAMA: You know, this whole argument, about he speaks well, you know, he's got good ideas but he has -- he needs more experience. You know, you hear that sometimes. What they really mean is I haven't been in Washington long enough, you know? They want to boil all the hope out of me.
MORAN: Obama got himself in trouble this summer when he declared he would negotiate directly with the leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
OBAMA: If we can work out a deal, that's something that we should be open to.
MORAN: President Obama would do a deal with Iran.
OBAMA: I think what you want is carrots and sticks. The notion that this is controversial indicates the degree to which the Bush/Cheney administration have shifted the debate in such a profoundly damaging way. I mean, think about it. We negotiated with Stalin. We negotiated with Mao.
MORAN: Another stop, the last of the day in tiny Audubon, Iowa and it's hurry up and wait.
OBAMA: We're waiting for the sound guys?
MORAN: Then, as Obama waits backstage, the local mayor mispronounces his African name. But here as elsewhere, the crowd listens closely to Barack Obama's real argument that he is tomorrow, a fresh face who represents a real change from our bitter, polarized politics.
OBAMA: I will not be a perfect president. But here's what I can promise you: I will always tell you what I think. I will always tell you where I stand. I will be honest with you about the challenges we face.
MORAN: And when you talk to Iowa voters who come to hear Obama, you get the sense they know they just might be part of something big here, something historic. Dave Bringman (sp?) is undecided but moved by it all.
DAVE BRINGMAN: He's looking for change. He doesn't seem to be afraid of change. He's looking to create a new atmosphere. I like that. We need a new atmosphere.
MORAN: It would be an historic thing, Barack Obama?
BRINGMAN: Wouldn't it be awesome to have that face representing this republic to the world? Wouldn't that be awesome? Yeah.
MORAN: Finally, Des Moines. The hotel, his home away from home where his wife and two daughters wait for a call.
OBAMA: End of a long day. That longer.
MORAN: What's the hardest thing about doing this?
OBAMA: Being away from the kids. They're at this great age, you know? Nine and six. Everything they do is remarkable in some way. They're growing all the time and they have funny things to say and all these insights. You know, I get 'em second hand.
MORAN: It's long road with a remarkable long-shot prospect at the end of it. Do you really think you can win this whole thing? President Barack Obama?
OBAMA: Absolutely. The only reason to do it is because, A, I believe I can win. And I think increasingly political professionals who watch what we're doing think we can win as well. And B, I think I should win. And frankly, there are times in our country's history where I might not be the right person for the job. I think that now, actually, the skills that I have and the experience that I bring is suited to the task at hand. And, you know, the question will be whether the American people agree with me.
MORAN: Well, today, the jabs continued even before the Clinton campaign saw our entire interview, they responded with this: "Considering that Senator Obama was a state senator just three years ago, he is the last person to be questioning anyone's experience. If he is elected, he would have less experience than any American president of the 20th century." Unquote. There are now 38 days until the Iowa caucuses.