ABC offered rising Republican Marco Rubio an extended interview for Monday's Nightline, but pressed the Senator on briefly attending a Mormon church as a child and on a misstatement over when his parents left Cuba. In contrast, the same network and show gushed over Barack Obama in 2008, thrilling that his rallies were like "Springsteen concerts."
Reporter David Muir on Monday highlighted that in Rubio's newly released autobiography, the Republican references his "journey to Las Vegas, where for a time, the family switched to the Mormon church." Muir probed, "You were baptized in the Mormon church?"
Of course, just because someone mentions something in a book, doesn't mean that ABC will focus on it. Barack Obama appeared repeatedly on Good Morning America and Nightline in the years from 2006 through 2008.
In his 1995 book Dreams of My Father, Obama recounted a Reverend Jeremiah Wright sermon on "white folks greed." (See page 293.) The anchors on Nightline surely didn't mention that.
On April 28, 2008, reporter David Wright, instead, referred to the "soft-spoken" Wright who "couldn't seem more different" than he had been described.
On the November 6, 2006, edition, host Terry Moran gushed:
TERRY MORAN: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon. In state after state, in the furious final days of this crucial campaign, Illinois Senator Barack Obama has been the Democrat's not-so-secret get-out-the-vote weapon. He inspires the party faithful and many others, like no one else on the scene today...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?"
On Monday, Muir pushed Rubio on how he described his parents journey to America: "You've been criticized for saying your parents were Cuban exiles who along with so many others escaped a thug in Fidel Castro, when, in reality, they actually left before Castro came in to power. Do you regret having told the story that way?"
Host Moran did introduce the segment by describing Rubio as the "fastest rising Hispanic American political start right now." However, ABC journalists certainly seem more interested in vetting possible vice presidential candidate Rubio then they did with Obama.
A partial transcript of the June 18 segment can be found below:
MUIR: Rubio often told the story of his parents escaping Castro. You've been criticized for saying your parents were Cuban exiles who along with so many others escaped a thug in Fidel Castro, when, in reality, they actually left before Castro came in to power. Do you regret having told the story that way?
RUBIO: I regret not having the date right because I could have avoided that distraction. I never talked about my parents getting on a boat and escaping Castro. I never talked about them, some midnight run that got them to the United States. The part of the narrative was that my parents were born and lived and loved their country that they are no longer able to be a part of.
MUIR: A story that he says resonates among Hispanic immigrants, no matter when they came to this country. Rubio acknowledging his party needs to do better with the President far ahead among Hispanic voters. Do you agree that number has to get better for Governor Romney?
RUBIO: Yeah and it will. And it is already, because I think our answer- I think our story and our message is that there's nothing more important in the Hispanic community than leaving your children better off than yourselves.
MUIR: You said that our message- I was struck by the word "our." Do you think you would help Romney if it were a Romney/Rubio ticket?
RUBIO: What I mean "ours" is the conservative, Republican message. I'm not discussing the vice presidential things, not because I'm trying to be evasive, but out of respect for Governor Romney.
MUIR: You've got to be thinking about it. We heard the Freudian slip.
RUBIO: [Clip begins.] Three, four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good job as vice president- I'm sorry. [Clip ends.] That wasn't a Freudian slip. When they ask you so much about a title, eventually it's going to sneak through your commentary.
MUIR: Respected by conservatives, some still wonder aloud if Rubio is experienced enough four years after John McCain picked an unknown governor from Alaska. Did you think that there were vetting problems?
RUBIO: I think people forgot how much enthusiasm she brought to that campaign. Look, John McCain did not lose the election because of Sarah Palin.
MUIR: Four years later, Rubio welcomes questions about his own history, his memoir out tomorrow. In it, the family's many moves as a child, the journey to Las Vegas, where for a time, the family switched to the Mormon church. You were baptized in the Mormon church?
RUBIO: Yes, that's right.
MUIR: You and your cousins, I read, would sing, like the Osmonds?
RUBIO: Yeah, you know, the Osmonds, especially then, were pretty popular, especially among Mormons. We would lip sync, basically.
MUIR: What song, do you remember?
RUBIO: Sweet and Innocent. I remember the words a little bit, but I'm not going to sing them for you.
MUIR: A few years later, the family would become Catholic again. Today, he attends mass with his wife and four children. They also attend services at a Baptist church. Back here in West Miami, still the boy who would show up after school. But vice president?
OLDER MAN: Not now.
MUIR: Not now?
OLDER MAN: He deserves to be president. Not vice president.
MUIR: He wants you to wait and be president. No vice president. All of it a whirlwind for the wife he met back in college and now with four children. When you look at your husband, do you see a vice president?
RUBIO: Don't fall for it.
JEANETTE DOUSDEBES: I see a husband and a dad, that's what I see.
MUIR: As the Republican Party and Mitt Romney tonight, still debate whether they see something else. I'm David Muir for Nightline in Miami.