ABC's Cuomo Again Frets About Racist American Voters

For the second time in less than a month, "Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo asked a Democratic presidential candidate to speculate about the inherent racism of American voters. Talking with John Edwards on Wednesday's edition of the program, the ABC journalist wondered about Thursday's Iowa caucus. He inquired, "When you think people get into the room, do you think race or gender may play an unspoken role in the caucus voting?"

Clearly, this is a topic that weighs heavily on Cuomo. On December 20, he spoke to Senator Barack Obama and asked, "What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America's inherent racists, racism?" In fact, GMA has a long history of harping on how bigoted America is. Since November 13, 2006, "Good Morning America" has featured the question, in some form or another, a total of five times.

On November 13 of '06, co-host Diane Sawyer asked Obama if America is "secretly...more racist or more sexist?" She repeated the question a day later, this time to liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. On February 16, 2007, the ABC anchor introduced a report on the same subject by darkly speculating on "what Americans really feel inside."

Following a similar track, on May 13, 2007, "This Week" host, and fellow ABC alum, George Stephanopoulos speculated that racists who wouldn't vote for Obama, wouldn't vote for any Democrat. It seems as though the only people focusing on Obama's race are the reporters at ABC News.

Wednesday's interview with Edwards also contained a particularly fawning moment when Cuomo repeated Edwards talking points. He began a question by saying, "As you mentioned, the last 36 hours, you've been on what you're calling a blitz for the middle class." The Democrat responded by agreeing that indeed he was on a "36 hour marathon for the middle class, as we're calling it..."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:04am on January 2nd, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: Let's go back to Chris Cuomo now. He is out in Iowa. And as we said, we're going to talk to two of the candidates. Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO: Good morning, Diane. You know, on the Democratic side, there's been a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton and how she'll do here as the front-runner. But, really, this state doesn't matter more to anyone than it does to John Edwards. He finished very well here in a strong second four years ago. He's put a lot of his money and his time in. In fact, he was leading here in Iowa through much of the summer. So, what will happen tomorrow is very important to him. He joined us this morning from Centerville at a pancake breakfast. Good morning, senator. Thank you for joining us. Let's get right to it. The polls are so close. Some say we may not even know a winner after tomorrow night's caucusing. Let me ask you though: When you think people get into the room, do you think race or gender may play an unspoken role in the caucus voting?

JOHN EDWARDS: I do not. I think these caucus goers in Iowa are good people. I think they're fair-minded. I think they'll look at each of the candidates in a fair way and decide who they think should be the next president of the United States and I think one of the reasons we have so much energy and momentum right now in our campaign is they're responding to this message of change, of standing up to corporate greed and fighting for the middle class, which is what my campaign's about.

CUOMO: A big issue for you here in Iowa has been the Iraq war. Your position has gone through a little bit of an evolution. You first voted for the war, then said that was a mistake. But now you're saying, making a little news here that we should withdraw even the troops doing the training as soon as possible. Now, a lot of people will see that as destabilizing the situation in Iraq. Are you overplaying the hand politically here and maybe jeopardizing security there?

EDWARDS: This has nothing to do with politics, Chris. This is what we need to do to be responsible for our own troops, to be responsible for what's happening in Iraq. The threshold question in Iraq is what are we going to do to shift the responsibility to Sunni and Shia leadership to reach a political solution? There's no military solution in Iraq. And to do that, we have to end the American occupation in Iraq. And what means for me is getting all combat troops out of Iraq in the first year of my presidency, ending all combat missions in Iraq and no permanent military bases in Iraq.

CUOMO: Now, senator, four years ago, you ran a strong second here in Iowa. A lot of people believe you are putting a lot of eggs in this basket. If you don't win or finish a strong second, are you done? Will you even have the money to go forward?

EDWARDS: Oh, we have plenty of money. Money's not the issue. This election's not going to be decided on money. This is not going to be an auction. It's going to be an election. And, in fact, Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, have spent way more money in Iowa than I have. But what's happening is we're in a very close contest because this message of standing up for the promise of America, for our children, making sure that we stand up for American jobs, and ending this corporate greed that's doing so much damage -- all those things are issues that resonate with Iowa caucus goers.

CUOMO: Now, you say that money's not the issue, but actually it has been made the issue. Recently, your wife got involved with comments made allegedly by Senator Obama's wife about not supporting Edwards because of the federal matching fund issue. You won't have the money to go forward. Are you surprised that the Obama campaign may be playing the money card against you?

EDWARDS: Well, Chris, to be honest with you, we're in the waning days of the campaign. Both of the other major candidates have been spending a lot of time talking about me. I think the reason for it is really pretty straight forward. They can see this movement and explosion that's happening in my campaign right here, and I think they're trying to blunt it. I think it's pretty simple. It's politics. It's the way things work. But I'm going to stay above that. I'm not running for president because of them. I'm running for president because of what I want to do for the country and that's exactly what I want to focus on in these last 36 hours before the caucuses.

CUOMO: As you mentioned, the last 36 hours, you've been on what you're calling a blitz for the middle class. You had your wife along with you. A lot of us care about how she's doing. How is Elizabeth holding up in this type of campaign pace?

EDWARD: She's doing terrific. I mean, she's right here with me. We're in the middle of a 36 hour marathon for the middle class, as we're calling it, and we're hitting place after place after place in Iowa. Elizabeth's with me. My daughter Cate's with me. And we're working. We're working the same way we're going to work when I'm president of the United States, Chris.

CUOMO: Senator, thank you for joining us this morning, good luck in the caucus.

EDWARDS: Thanks, Chris, appreciate it.

Race Issues Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential Racism ABC Good Morning America
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