On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose shamelessly boosted the Obama campaign's talking point about the economy: "The President will...say, things are in much better shape...so my policies are, at long last, working." When Haley Barbour replied that "the liberal media leads you to think that the economy's getting great," Rose sneered, "I didn't realize you think the Federal Reserve chairman is a liberal media elite" [audio available here; video below the jump].
The CBS anchor also raised Mitt Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom's recent "Etch-A-Sketch" comment with the former Mississippi governor: "You have a candidate who conservatives don't seem to be sure about. And now, you have this Etch-a-Sketch thing. Does that simply make their doubts deeper?"
Towards the end of the segment, Barbour criticized the Republican presidential candidate for getting off the main message of Obama's policies: "It's not that it's bad to have a contest. We need to be focused on Obama's policies. If this election is a referendum on Obama's policies, he's going to lose." Rose followed up by asking, "If it is not on his policy, the Republicans will lose?" The former RNC head replied, "No, he has a better chance of winning if it's not about his policies. And that's why you hear his supporters say- oh, it's not a referendum on his policies. Well, they don't want it to be."
The journalist then forwarded the point from the Obama campaign, which led to a back and forth between him and Barbour on the economy:
ROSE: The economy's improving, so the President will go to the country and say, things are in much better shape- well, they're trending up, so my policies are, at long last, working.
BARBOUR: Well, here, the administration and the liberal media leads you to think that the economy's getting great. But, Charlie, you know, when we were growing up, there was an old-
ROSE: I didn't realize you think the Federal Reserve chairman [Ben Bernanke] is a liberal media elite.
BARBOUR: When you get to- well, the Federal Reserve chairman has talked about the headwinds, the problems, the difficulties, the pitfalls. But the economy is, thank goodness, getting a little better, but it reminds me, when we were kids in the South, there used to be a country song (Rose laughs) and the lyrics were, I've been down so long, it looks like up to me now-
ROSE: (laughs) I know the song, Governor-
BARBOUR: Of course, you do....So, compared to Obama's policies for the last couple of years, we have seen a little improvement in employment. But Charlie, last month, 58.6 percent of Americans had a job- 58.6 percent of adult Americans were working. Except for the Obama administration, that is the lowest percentage since 1983....For thirty years! And so, let's- I hope it gets better, but let's don't act like this is morning in America.
ROSE: A phrase that Ronald Reagan used at the time of his second campaign....
Earlier in the interview, Rose highlighted the Etch-A-Sketch remark from Fehrnstrom. An on-screen graphic made light of the comment: "Shaking Up The Race: Barbour On Romney Etch-A-Sketch Comment":
ROSE: You also have a political race here, and you have a candidate who conservatives don't seem to be sure about. And now, you have this Etch-a-Sketch thing. Does that simply make their doubts deeper?
BARBOUR: Well, let me say, first of all- yeah, Mitt Romney is not as conservative as Haley Barbour, but he's....far, far, far better than Barack Obama, and that's what this is about.
ROSE: And is he conservative enough for Haley Barbour?
BARBOUR: Against Barack Obama, you better believe it. There's no question about that. Barack Obama is the great uniter of Republicans, and if Mitt wins the nomination, or Rick [Santorum] or Newt [Gingrich] or anybody else-
ROSE: So you're saying that if Mitt Romney is the nominee, he'll have no problem with conservatives?...
BARBOUR: Our party will unite behind him, and there's always going to be somebody saying, he's not perfect. Well, there's not going to be a perfect candidate this year or any other year that I've ever been involved in politics.
During an earlier interview with Barbour on February 27, 2012, Rose filibustered the former governor's attack on the President "ripping" the Constitution. The Republican accused Obama of "forcing...abortion pills" on the Catholic Church, after the CBS anchor took Rick Santorum's criticism of John F. Kennedy out of context. Rose then interrupted Barbour and replied, "Wait...he [Santorum] was talking about...Kennedy, not...Obama."
[Update: The full transcript of Charlie Rose and Erica Hill's interview of Haley Barbour, which aired 12 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Thursday's CBS This Morning, can be found at MRC.org.]