"Democrats are pretty happy right now. They would have liked if John McCain did a little bit better yesterday, but they had decided they would rather run against George W. Bush, especially because he's had to move so far to the right. You know, he's now the kamikaze conservative, with all the positions he's had to take here in South Carolina against choice, going to Bob Jones University, really locking himself in on that huge tax cut."
- ABC analyst George Stephanopoulos, February 20 This Week.
Bush: "Far Right," "Hard Right"
"You might confuse Bush, this year's comeback kid, with a quick change artist. The conservative with compassion turned hard right down South and stood uncritically at Bob Jones University, which has been criticized for anti-black and anti-Catholic views. But whistling Dixie may not work in Michigan, a big, diverse, urban state."
- Bill Whitaker on the February 21 CBS Evening News.
"Governor Bush did very well with voters on the far right of the Republican Party in South Carolina; that may have been his margin of victory. Is it necessary for you now, Senator McCain, to make that a liability for Governor Bush, to portray him as someone beholden to that wing of the party?"
- Today co-host Matt Lauer to John McCain, Feb. 21.
"What do you do to convince, if you are John McCain, to convince the far right 'no, really, you have to listen to my point of electability.'?"
- Brian Williams to Laura Ingraham on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, February 22.
"The strategy that seemed so brilliant in South Carolina, embracing the far right, snapped back and gave him a black eye in Michigan, allowing John McCain to paint him as anti-Catholic and in the pocket of the Christian Right."
- CBS reporter Bill Whitaker, Feb. 23 Evening News.
"The support of far right organizations ignited Democrats and independents in Michigan who fueled McCain's win. McCain will try to exploit that....The states coming up include several where Bush's ties to the Christian Right may cost him support."
- Reporter Eric Engberg, February 24 CBS Evening News.
No Compassionate Conservative
"He's had to say that he doesn't have a position on whether the flag should fly over the Capitol in South Carolina.... And he's associated with Bob Jones University....It's not the kind of thing that George Bush had wanted to deal with in this primary. He now realizes he has to retool his campaign in a general election, if he's fortunate enough to be the nominee, to try to once again be the compassionate conservative and not just the plain right-wing conservative."
- Tim Russert on MSNBC Feb. 22, Michigan primary night.
"After veering to the right in South Carolina, Bush came to this inner-city [Detroit] community center to return to his theme of compassionate conservatism."
- ABC's John Yang, February 23 World News Tonight.
"Governor Bush started out portraying himself as a compassionate conservative. In an effort to defeat McCain, has he become the mean face of your party that he seemed anxious to avoid?"
- Co-host Bryant Gumbel to Jack Kemp on CBS's The Early Show, February 21.
McCain No Moderate
"What's really amazing here to me is that this is one of the great acts of political alchemy we've seen in a long time. They've taken a Western ultra-conservative like John McCain, and they've turned him into, in the eyes of some voters at least, sort of a liberal centrist."
- Time's Jack White on McCain, Feb.19 Inside Washington.
"ABC News has taken a brand new poll and we have the underlying evidence one answer appears to be that a huge percentage of the voting public knows little or nothing about John McCain's voting record. Now, when they find out, it may or may not make a difference. But when it comes to most of the issues, there is absolutely nothing liberal or moderate about John McCain."
- Ted Koppel on Nightline, February 25.
Kids Love You, Is That Okay?
"I've spoken to a lot of the young people at your rallies, and one of the answers I've gotten frequently from them has been not that they're plugged into your policies or issues, but they view you as a true hero. Are you okay with that?"
- ABC's Jack Ford to John McCain, February 17 Good Morning America.
Bush Makes McCain Fans Cry
"If compassion and commercials don't turn you on to Bush, perhaps stealth mudslinging will turn you off to McCain. The Bush campaign and groups that back him have made hundreds of thousands of mailings and calls, blasting McCain with language so tough it made one McCain supporter cry."
- Bill Whitaker, February 18 CBS Evening News.
Magazines Mangle Momentum
"Bush's triumph in the cultural wheelhouse of the South at least temporarily restored him to front-runner status. But his victory came at a steep cost. He had been forced to run far to the right and deep in mud."
- Newsweek's Howard Fineman, February 28.
"Bush not only revealed himself as at times a lackluster campaigner, but he positioned himself so far to the right to win South Carolina's hard-core conservatives that he may have trouble now moving back to the center."
- U.S. News writer Roger Simon, February 28.
Baffled Bob on Bill's Boom
"In Republican circles anyway, calling someone 'Clinton' turns out to be this year's version of 'your mama wears combat boots'....Well, sure it's a campaign and sure they're Republicans, but how ironic, when invoking the name of a President who has presided over one of America's great economic booms at a time when the nation was at peace, becomes a political insult."
- CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffers end-of-show commentary, February 20.
Disgusting Whiff of Cold War
Ted Koppel on GOP criticism of Russia: "Almost like a whiff of the Cold War there. It sounded like Republicans 30 years ago...David [Gergen], as you know from your many different terms in the White House, an American President though, obviously, would have to deal with the Russian President. What do you say in a situation like that? 'C'mon guys, it was only the campaign, you know all kinds of things get said'?"
George Stephanopoulos: "...One of the things that surprised me more in that debate was they all came out against more nuclear arms reductions and they said we should basically stop now and build a ballistic missile defense. Very hard line positions."
Koppel: "Very hard line position."
- Nightline exchange after Feb. 15 Republican debate.
Gore: A Better Son Than Bush
"However formal the father-son relationship, it was strong enough that Al went off to war for him. When most kids wouldn't come to the dinner table wearing a clean T-shirt, Al signed up for Vietnam to diminish the impact of his father's opposition to the war in his unsuccessful fight to keep his Senate seat in 1970. Gore, to preserve his father's career, did what few sons of privilege had to do....As psychiatrists and Shakespeare would have it, a son comes into his own when he surpasses his father. By that measure, Gore is fully grown. Unlike the breezy George W. Bush, who was on a career respirator much of his adult life, Gore has worked up a sweat getting to where he is."
- Time columnist Margaret Carlson, February 28.
Poisonous Free Speech
"What makes this bad for democracy is that most of these tactics fly below the radar of reporters and poison what is supposed to be an open debate of the merits and policies of the candidates."
- John Martin concluding a World News Tonight story on the evils of TV ads, mass mailings and e-mail from independent groups, February 24.
"How come no ones talking about freedom? In America, shouldn't voters be allowed to give as much of their money to whomever they want? The so-called 'reformers' keep talking about those sinister 'special interests'. But what is a 'special interest'? Yes, it's the tobacco companies, but it's also any group of like-minded people say, the Sierra Club...Ads like this are illegal under most of the proposed reforms because they name a candidate. But these ads are useful. They give us information....I can see why the politicians don't like these ads, but should they be able to ban them?"
- John Stossel's "Give Me a Break" segment on ABCs 20/20, February 18.
Bryant's Reagan Double Take
Co-host Bryant Gumbel: "Well, later on this morning we're going to be talking on this Presidents Day about this presidential survey. Who would you think finished first?...Of all the Presidents when they did first to worst. Oh c'mon, you would know."
Clayson: "Ronald Reagan."
Gumbel: dropping his pen: "First?!?!"
Clayson: "Who was it?"
Gumbel: "No! Reagan wasn't even in the top ten. Abraham Lincoln. Maybe you've heard of him."
- Exchange on CBS's The Early Show about C-SPAN poll of historians which ranked Reagan 11th, February 21.