At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show" a full six minutes of coverage was devoted to Barack Obama’s world tour, while only three minutes was given to a John McCain interview. During the interview with McCain, co-host Harry Smith wondered: "You know, when you have the network anchors chasing your opponent across the Middle East it's a little hard to make news. What is your strategy to get folks to pay attention to your message over the next couple of days?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked a similar question to Republican pollster Frank Luntz on Friday: "Can John McCain even compete next week?"
The coverage of Obama consisted of co-host Julie Chen talking to New York Times Baghdad correspondent Richard Oppel, followed by a clip of CBS correspondent Lara Logan’s interview with Obama in Afghanistan. Oppel highlighted recent news of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki supporting Obama’s troop withdrawal plan: "...he was quoted accurately. He did express a clear affinity for Obama's 16 month proposal."
Later, when interviewing McCain, Harry Smith also brought up Maliki’s comments: "But one of the other things that -- one of the other things that he [Obama] has said is that maybe the troops should be out within the next 18 months, an idea that Prime Minister Al Maliki basically agrees with. Maybe the surge, in fact, did work. Is it time for American troops to start coming home?" That statement was in response to McCain pointing out to Smith that: "We are winning the war. And Senator Obama was wrong. He railed against it. He voted against the surge. And he said it would fail. He was wrong there."
During the clip of Logan’s interview with Obama, the foreign correspondent helped summarize Obama’s policy toward Afghanistan:
Well, Senator Obama told us that he'd been talking to U.S. commanders and Afghan leaders on the ground here in Afghanistan. And his assessment of the situation is that it's precarious and urgent and requires immediate action...Senator Obama told us more U.S. troops would only be part of the solution. And an Obama Administration would make pressing Pakistan a priority, pushing the government there to get more serious about clamping down on Al Qaeda and Taliban extremists operating out of its remote tribal areas.
Here are the full transcripts of both the Obama and McCain segments during Monday’s show:
JULIE CHEN: Breaking news. Barack Obama arrives in Iraq overnight as he and John McCain trade jabs over which one has the right prescription for peace. We'll hear from them both this morning.
JULIE CHEN: But first, Senator Barack Obama touched down early this morning in Baghdad. His latest stop on his highly anticipated trip across south Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Obama started his trip last week, leaving from Andrews Air Force base. On Friday he arrived in Kuwait before visiting Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday. He returned to Kuwait Sunday before arriving in Iraq very early this morning. Joining us now from Baghdad with more on Obama's visit is Richard Oppel of the New York Times. Richard, good morning to you.
RICHARD OPPEL: Good morning, Julie.
CHEN: How is the government there in Iraq receiving Senator Obama?
OPPEL: Well, he's got a busy day today. He's meeting with Prime Minister Maliki, with President Talibani, with General Petraeus, and other top Iraqi and American leaders. And he's expected to talk about the future of troop levels here in Iraq and other crucial issues facing Iraq and the United States.
CHEN: There was some controversy over the past weekend over an article that appeared in a German magazine because Obama was saying that he wants, if he gets into the Oval Office, he wants to start moving forward with moving troops out of Iraq. And Maliki was quoted as saying that he was in support of this. What is the latest with that?
OPPEL: Well, that's interesting. That's right. That's what Maliki was quoted as saying. U.S. officials then got in touch with Maliki aids and said 'do you realize the ramifications of your comments and how that is playing across the world?' Maliki then issued a statement claiming that he had been mis-characterized or mis -- or the translation was poor. That statement was distributed by the American military. But one of my colleagues, Sabrina Tavernese, last night was able to actually gain access to the audio tape of the actual interview and, in fact -- and in fact Maliki did -- he was quoted accurately. He did express a clear affinity for Obama's 16 month proposal.
CHEN: Well, it'll be interesting to see in a few hours what the two gentleman say to each other. Richard Oppel from the New York Times, thank you. Earlier on his trip abroad while in Afghanistan, Senator Obama sat down exclusively with CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan.
LARA LOGAN: Good morning Julie. Well, Senator Obama told us that he'd been talking to U.S. commanders and Afghan leaders on the ground here in Afghanistan. And his assessment of the situation is that it's precarious and urgent and requires immediate action.
BARACK OBAMA: There's starting to be a growing consensus that it's time for us to withdraw some of our combat troops out of Iraq, deploy them here in Afghanistan and I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now's the time for us to do it.
LOGAN: What will those extra troops do in Afghanistan? What will their specific task be and how will it be any different from what they're already doing?
OBAMA: Well, you know, in talking to the commanders here, a couple of things. Number one, if they had more troops, they're going to have more mobility and more flexibility in terms of going after Al Qaeda targets and Taliban targets. I think along the borders especially. There are a whole host of activities that right now are not being done because folks aren't freed up from the immediate day to day battles that are having to take place. The commanders are clear that they could use those two and maybe three brigades immediately. And one of the things I think it's important for us to do is to begin planning for those brigades now. If we wait until the next administration it could be a year before we get those additional troops on the ground here in Afghanistan. And I think that would be a mistake.
LOGAN: Senator Obama told us more U.S. troops would only be part of the solution. And an Obama Administration would make pressing Pakistan a priority, pushing the government there to get more serious about clamping down on Al Qaeda and Taliban extremists operating out of its remote tribal areas. But how do you compel Pakistan to act?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that the U.S. government provides an awful lot of aid to Pakistan, provides a lot of military support to Pakistan. And to send a clear message to Pakistan that this is important to them as well as to us that I think -- that message has not been sent.
LOGAN: And under what circumstances would you authorize unilateral U.S. action against targets inside the tribal areas?
OBAMA: Well, what I've said is that if we had actual intelligence against high-value Al Qaeda targets and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets that we should. Now, my hope is that it doesn't come to that. That, in fact, the Pakistani government would recognize that if we had Osama Bin Laden in our sights that we should fire or we should capture and-
LOGAN: Isn't that the case now? I mean, do you really think-
LOGAN -if U.S. forces had Osama Bin Laden in their sights and the Pakistanis said no that they wouldn't fire, they wouldn't go after him?
OBAMA: Oh, I think actually this is current doctrine. There was some dispute when I said this last August, both the administration and some of my opponents suggested 'well, you know, you shouldn't go around saying that.' But I don't think there's any doubt that that should be our policy and will continue to be our policy.
LOGAN: But it is the current policy?
OBAMA: I believe it is the current policy.
LOGAN: So there's no change then?
OBAMA: I don't think there's going to be a change there. I think that in order for us to be successful it's not going to be enough just to engage in the occasional shot fired. We've got training camps that are growing and multiplying.
LOGAN: Would you take out all those training camps?
OBAMA: Well, I think that what we'd like to see is the Pakistani government take out those training camps.
LOGAN: And if they won't?
OBAMA: Well, I think that we've got to work with them so they will.
LOGAN: Obama said there would be huge symbolic value in capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden, but that alone wouldn't be enough to destroy Al Qaeda. Julie.
CHEN: Lara Logan. Thanks Lara.
HARRY SMITH: And joining us this morning from Portland, Maine, is Senator John McCain. Good morning, Senator.
JOHN MCCAIN: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: You know, when you have the network anchors chasing your opponent across the Middle East it's a little hard to make news. What is your strategy to get folks to pay attention to your message over the next couple of days?
MCCAIN: Well, I hope that the people will have a better focus on the fact that we have succeeded in our strategy in Iraq. We are winning the war. And Senator Obama was wrong. He railed against it. He voted against the surge. And he said it would fail. He was wrong there. And there's very little doubt in my mind that he will see for himself that he had a gross misjudgment and then he'll correct that. And so I think it's important that-
SMITH: But one of the other things that -- one of the other things that he has said is that maybe the troops should be out within the next 18 months, an idea that Prime Minister Al Maliki basically agrees with. Maybe the surge, in fact, did work. Is it time for American troops to start coming home?
MCCAIN: Well, Prime Minister Maliki agreed with President Bush that it would be conditions-based. If Senator Obama had had his way they'd have been out last March. And we'd have never had the surge and we would have failed and we would have then faced enormous consequences of defeat both there and it would've -- in Iraq -- and it would've affected Afghanistan. If we'd chosen to lose in Iraq we would've had a very serious problem, more serious problem, in Afghanistan as well. So, as Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday, it would be very dangerous to do what Senator Obama wants to do. And he still fails to acknowledge that the surge succeeded. He said it would fail. He voted against it and railed against it. The conditions there would be very different where he's visiting as far as security is concerned and as far as our progress is concerned.
MCCAIN: If we had done what he wanted to do.
SMITH: Let me ask you this, with all this attention this week about foreign policy, which would be your higher priority when you become President of the United States, the economy or foreign policy?
MCCAIN: Oh, I think you have to do both. Obviously the security of our citizens is a president's first priority. But the economy is hurting very badly. We need to do a lot of things now. Nuclear power, which Senator Obama opposes. Offshore drilling, which he opposes. We've got to have hybrid, hydrogen. We've got to have wind, solar, tide. We've got to embark on a national mission for energy independence, keep people in their homes, and recover the economy. So, I think Americans are hurting very badly and it's of the highest priority.
SMITH: Senator John McCain, we thank you very much for your time this morning. Take care, sir.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Harry.