Acosta began his report with an online ad from the Republican National Committee, which highlighted “Obama’s past ties to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and questioning the president-elect’s handling of the scandal” and how “[c]omplete with eerie music -- this...website video has the feel of a campaign attack ad.”
The CNN correspondent then noted how “not all Republicans approve the message,” including Senator John McCain, who suggested that Republicans “should try to be working constructively together” with the incoming administration instead of focusing on possible connections to Blagojevich. Acosta continued on this point by introducing the Hannity clip: “Even conservative Sean Hannity has noted what federal prosecutors have made clear, that there are no allegations of wrongdoing facing the next president.”
Later, Acosta played clips from CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who labeled the scandal a “distraction” for the Obama transition; and from contributor Roland Martin, who thought it was a “nuisance.” Martin also emphasized how the Obama’s team delay in disclosing their contacts with Blagojevich’s office was a smart move: “Get it right coming out of the gate. They cannot afford to come out and release a report or whatever and say, here are the contacts, and then something else comes out later saying, well no, here were some other contacts.”
At the conclusion of his report, Acosta speculated that such a disclosure, along with Blagojevich’s resignation from office, “could help push this Chicago political storm out to sea.”
The full transcript of Acosta’s report, which began 16 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour of Monday’s Newsroom program:
HEIDI COLLINS: The longer the Blagojevich scandal lasts, the more of a distraction it becomes for Barack Obama, and the more some Republicans try to connect the two. Here now is CNN’s Jim Acosta.
(CNN GRAPHIC: ‘Distracting Obama’)
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA (from 2002 interview): Right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as governor. We --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You’re working hard for Rod?
OBAMA: You betcha.
JIM ACOSTA (voice-over): Complete with eerie music -- this Republican National Committee website video has the feel of a campaign attack ad, highlighting Barack Obama’s past ties to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and questioning the president-elect’s handling of the scandal. The problem is not all Republicans approve the message.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, ARIZONA: In all due respect to the Republican National Committee and anybody -- right now, I think we should try to be working constructively together.
ACOSTA: Even conservative Sean Hannity has noted what federal prosecutors have made clear, that there are no allegations of wrongdoing facing the next president.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: If anything, the governor expressed frustration that Obama wouldn’t give him anything. Now, I think that's fairly exculpatory for him...
OBAMA: What I’m absolutely certain about is that our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my senate seat.
ACOSTA: Still, Mr. Obama’s promise to detail any conversations between his staff and Blagojevich has the nation’s capital waiting in suspense. Various news accounts say incoming Chief-of-Staff Rahn Emanuel did have contact with the governor’s office about possible candidates for Mr. Obama’s senate seat. But CNN has learned Emanuel is not a target of the Blagojevich investigation.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think this is a distraction. In fact, we’re now into the fifth day without a report on exactly who said what to whom.
ROLAND MARTIN: I think, overall, this is a nuisance. It is a nuisance --
ACOSTA: Veteran observer of the Chicago political scene and CNN contributor Roland Martin says there’s one big reason to take plenty of time addressing the matter.
MARTIN: Get it right coming out of the gate. They cannot afford to come out and release a report or whatever and say, here are the contacts, and then something else comes out later saying, well no, here were some other contacts.
JIM ACOSTA (on-camera): Illinois’s attorney general says she’s heard Governor Blagojevich may offer his resignation soon, perhaps today. That along with the promised disclosure from the Obama transition team could help push this Chicago political storm out to sea. Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.