SNL Parody? GMA Puffs Obama, Grills Clinton Supporter

March 12th, 2008 3:08 PM

In a striking resemblance to a pair of recent "Saturday Night Live" skits, the March 12 edition of "Good Morning America" began with a fawning interview of Barack Obama, then grilled Hillary Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro.

Co-host Chris Cuomo first congratulated Obama for his Mississippi victory, then questioned if it "seals the deal." Cuomo added he is "sure you’re [Obama] gaining the confidence that you have a very good change of winning the ticket." Cuomo then pressed for an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket then asked Obama for a reaction to Geraldine Ferraro’s allegedly racially charged comments. To conclude the interview, inquired into Obama’s familial for the next six weeks leading to Pennsylvania.

"You have six weeks now before Pennsylvania. You have some time to see your wife, see your kids, play a little ball. You going to take it to the hoop? You going to pretend that you're Michael Jordan trying to take it into the basket a little bit?"

Immediately following the interview, co-host Diane Sawyer spoke with Ferraro herself on her controversial statement that "if Obama was a white mane, he would not be in this position." The tone and the questions were noticeably tougher. Sawyer challenged Ferraro’s assertion that she is not directly involved with the Clinton campaign. Sawyer also noted Obama’s popular vote totals and the 11 senators that support him, asking if they’re just caught up in "the concept." In the end, Sawyer asked if Ferraro is "sorry" for her statement.

Update 21:40 | Matthew Sheffield. Cuomo's Jordan line of questioning is rather interesting. How likely is it that he would ask a white candidate a query of that nature, asks Howard Mortman. It's a good question. Not very, I'd say.

The transcript first from the Obama interview.

CHRIS CUOMO: First let's turn to the presidential campaign. I spoke with Senator Obama after his big win in Mississippi, and we wanted to talk specifically about the latest sparks from the Clinton campaign, Geraldine Ferraro's comments to a newspaper that, quote, "if Obama was a white man he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman [of any color] he could not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Here's what Senator Obama had to say about this, his big win, and more. Senator Obama, thank you for joining us. I congratulate you on winning Mississippi. Let me ask you, do you think this seals the deal for you?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Well, I think we've still got some work to do. Obviously, as long as Senator Clinton is running, we've got a contest. And she's a tenacious campaigner. But I'm thrilled with the victory not just in Mississippi but Wyoming. And we're continuing to build delegates.

CUOMO: I'm sure you're gaining confidence that you have a very good chance of winning the ticket, so let's look at vice president. I know you think it's too early, but I'll ask it to you this way. Can you think of anyone better than Hillary Rodham Clinton to be your vice presidential candidate?

OBAMA: Well, I think that Senator Clinton is extraordinarily talented. I've said before, she would be on anybody's short list.


CUOMO: Let me flip it this way. Are you ready to say that you would not accept the vice presidential role with Hillary Rodham Clinton? You're ready to rule it out.

OBAMA: Well, you know, I basically said in Mississippi I'm running for president. I'm not interested in the vice presidency.

CUOMO: Saying you're not running for vice president is different than saying I will not accept the vice presidential role with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Is that what you mean to say? I'm looking for a straight no or a yes.

OBAMA: Chris, I admire your tenacity. I am not running for vice president. I am not thinking about accepting a vice presidency. I am running for the presidency of the United States of America.

CUOMO: Alright. Yesterday, you came out with very specific charges against the Clinton campaign, saying, "you're throwing everything at me. The campaign is leaking photos of me in African garb." Now Geraldine Ferraro comes out, she says if you were a white man, you wouldn't be where you are today. So I ask you for your reaction. Do you think you were singled out by the Democratic party because of your race?

OBAMA: Well, let me put in this way, Chris. I think that if anybody was looking for the quickest path to the presidency, they would not say I want to be an African-American man named Barack Obama. I don't think that's in the handbook for running for president. Anybody who knows the history of this country, I think would not take too seriously the notion that this has been a huge advantage. But I don't think it's a disadvantage either. I will be honest with you, the one thing I am frustrated about during the course of this campaign, and it's typical Washington politics, is we do end up spending a lot of time obsessing over who's up and who's down and what surrogate made what statement. But we don't spend as much time just really feeling the difficulties that people are going through on a day-to-day basis, and I get sucked into that sometimes.

CUOMO: Do you believe that Geraldine Ferraro should leave the Clinton campaign for what she said?

OBAMA: Well, I'll leave that up to the Clinton campaign. But what I have said is this, that, you know, when some of my surrogates have made statements that I don't think were appropriate, they left the campaign. I think that we have to set a tone in the Democratic party that projects bringing the country together, unifying the country. I think that's what we're about, and I respect Geraldine Ferraro. She was a trailblazer and an inspiration for a lot of people, including myself when she ran as vice president. I really think it's important for us to not divide the Democratic party or the American people. I think it's important to bring the people together because the challenges we've got are so enormous.

CUOMO: You have six weeks now before Pennsylvania. You have some time to see your wife, see your kids, play a little ball. You going to take it to the hoop? You going to pretend that you're Michael Jordan trying to take it into the basket a little bit?

OBAMA: Let me tell you, it would take a great feat of imagination to pretend I'm Michael Jordan. I might pretend that I'm 15 years younger than I am. The only problem with that is, sometimes that's how you get injured. So I have to be careful about that.

CUOMO: That's true. I've learned that the hard way. Senator, thank you very much for taking the time. Congratulations on Mississippi.

OBAMA: Thank you so much, Chris.

CUOMO: Senator was upbeat and diplomatic where Geraldine Ferraro was involved. But Diane, it should be noted his campaign was very direct. And they believe that Miss Ferraro should have to leave.

Then the Ferraro interview.

DIANE SAWYER: Should have to leave the finance committee of Senator Clinton and we're going to hear from Ms. Ferraro in just a moment. We do turn to her. She has caused a controversy, and of course, we do remember back, 1984, it was pioneering candidate on that national stage, the first woman to be on a national ticket. She ran with Walter Mondale. And as we said, she is a Clinton supporter on the finance committee. Senator Clinton herself issued a statement last night after a couple of milder statements, she did say "Well, I said earlier today in Harrisburg that I obviously disagree and reject the comments. And Senator Obama and I have both said on several occasions that we want this campaign to be about issues." And Geraldine Ferraro is here live this morning.


SAWYER: A quick, just a couple of quick news questions if I can. Have you heard from Senator Clinton personally has she said to you, "don't say those things"?

FERRARO: No, which is just- I am not part of the campaign.

SAWYER: No, but you know her. She's a friend.

FERRARO: Undoubtedly. And the sad thing is, is that my comments have been taken so out of context and have been spun by the Obama campaign as racist. That, you know, it's doing precisely what they don't want done is going to the Democratic party and dividing us even more.

SAWYER: Quick followup. Do you think inside the Clinton campaign, they can't say it but they actually agree with you what you're saying or disagree?

FERRARO: That's not of concern to me. Let me just take a step back, Diane. First of all, let me just say to you, people think this is a racist comment, and secondly, let me also point to the fact, just give me a minute, that I've spent 40 years fighting discrimination, not only about gender, but about race, for the disabled, for the elderly, for gays. This is an outrage.

SAWYER: But keying off to what Senator Obama said, I don't think he said it was racist comment. What he said was that that factually-

FERRARO: His campaign did. First of all, there are two things.

SAWYER: Let's talk about what he said. He said factually, it's absurd I think is the word he used. Let's just look at it again. This is how you're quoted in the newspaper. "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."

FERRARO: And I believe that.

SAWYER: "And if he was a woman of any color he would not be in this position."

FERRARO: And I believe that.

SAWYER: "He happens to be very lucky to be who he is and the country is caught up in the concept."

FERRARO: Absolutely. And now let me tell you what the surrounding situation was. I had given a paid speech which had been booked a year and a half ago, had nothing to do with the Clinton campaign. I do not, I am not a surrogate. Somebody suggest I get fired. Fired from what?

SAWYER: Wait, wait, you're on the finance committee.

FERRARO: I'm on the finance committee, so when hundreds of millions of dollars have been made by all of the candidates do you know what my firm- Hold on. In my firm, we have not only, I'm on her finance committee. Put on what you do at a fund-raiser. We have an Obama supporter was one of my partners, who's on the finance committee and we have McCain supporter who's on the finance committee.

SAWYER: But I just want to go back to the words you used because this is really important --

FERRARO: And I'm going to address those. And let me put it in context which is what is absolutely necessary. So I was asked after the speech, what is the reason that you see that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are at this level together? Could I have said because his experience is what puts him there? No. Could I say because the stands on issues have distinguished him? No. What is the real thing that has turned out? Now, he's talking about historic candidacies. And when I started off by saying, if you go back to 1984 and look at my historic campaign, which I just talked about all these things. In 1984 if my name were Gerard Ferraro, instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would have never been chosen as the vice presidential candidate.

SAWYER: Yes, there are people who have heard you say that, and said there is a distinction that should be made. Walter Mondale chose you.

FERRARO: That's not the distinction Diane. It's the candidacy. And that you're missing the point. And let me go one step further. It had also said it had nothing to do with my qualifications. Could I have done the job as vice president? Absolutely. Could I have done it better than George W. Bush? Absolutely.

SAWYER: Okay, so let me get to the words about this on Senator Obama.

FERRARO: The spin on the words has been that somehow I was addressing the his qualifications. I was not. I was celebrating the fact that the black community in this country has come out with pride in the historic candidacy and has shown itself at the polls. You'd think he'd say "yeah thank you for doing that. That's the kind of thing that we want to say thank you to the community." Instead I'm charged with being a racist.

SAWYER: Well, again, I don't think he has said that but this--

FERRARO: His campaign has. I've been deluged with e-mails, phone calls, nasty type of things, contacting my office, awful stuff.

SAWYER: I just want to ask, when you say the country is caught up in the concept, and what it work, in fact you seem to be what you seem to make a determinative thing.

FERRARO: Parsing these words, Diane, these words -- this is not --

SAWYER: In your words, let me just ask. The popular vote, 13,033,386 for Senator Obama. 11 senators who know him and know Senator Clinton are supporting him. Do you think they're doing it because they're just caught up in a concept?


FERRARO: No. Because what you've done is you've gone in and you parsed something out of context again. I just think -- I find that offensive. I was talking about historic candidacy. You know, the numbers are there. Why would you call -- wait. Hold on a minute. Why would you call South Carolina so far ahead of time if people are not reflecting about how the black vote was going to come out? Why would they call Mississippi ahead of time?


SAWYER: That was polling.

FERRARO: It's more than polling. It's looking at who is going to vote.

SAWYER: But as you know, as you know, Bill Clinton won the black vote too.

FERRARO: Oh, yeah. Tell me, then, why, every time somebody opens their mouth, Bill Clinton, racist, Governor Rendell, racist, Gerry Ferraro, all of us have records of anything but racist.

SAWYER: Sorry you said this?

FERRARO: Absolutely not, absolutely not. And to be quite frank, it seems to me that the campaign -- and David Axlerod knows me. He should have called me up and said what do you mean by this? And I would have given the full context. I have only said nice things. When I give a paid speech, I don't pick out one campaign over another. I talk about them both. I give one a little bit of an edge, but I'm also fair to John McCain. I'm not speaking for either the Democratic party or candidate. I think, I have to tell you, my concern has been over how I've been treated as well. And I'm hurt, absolutely hurt, by how they have taken this thing and spun it to imply that in any way, in any way I'm racist. And to use it to attack Hillary, because they can't speak about the issues, I find this just appalling.