Apparently ignoring polls, Blitzer asked: Are ads a sign Clinton camp "is feeling desperate"?

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

On the May 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked whether former President Bill Clinton's recent campaign advertisement on behalf of his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), is "the act of a supportive husband or a sign the Clinton campaign is feeling desperate." Blitzer offered no basis for his suggestion that the Clinton campaign may be "feeling desperate" and did not mention a recent Newsweek poll that shows Sen. Clinton ahead of all the other leading presidential candidates in head-to-head races (though within the margin-of-error in some matchups).

Later, CNN correspondent Jack Cafferty suggested* President Clinton "is, according to the polls, a kind of a divisive figure" -- despite Clinton's latest favorability rating, taken at the end of March in a USA Today/Gallup poll, of 60 percent. The previous two USA Today/Gallup polls, from February 9-11, 2007, and June 23-25, 2006, show Clinton with 63 and 59 percent favorability ratings, respectively, while a February 22-25, 2007, ABC News/Washington Post poll and a September 22-24, 2006, CNN poll shows him at 55 and 60 percent favorable, respectively. By contrast, Republican strategist and former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) told Blitzer: "If I'm a Democrat [sic] candidate, I want Bill Clinton engaged as early as possible. ... [B]y and large, I think Bill Clinton is going to be very good for any Democrat [sic] candidate."

From the May 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Coming up, Bill Clinton goes to new lengths to promote his wife's presidential campaign.

CLINTON [video clip]: You know that she'll deliver because she spent a lifetime caring, working, and delivering.

BLITZER: Is this the act of a supportive husband or a sign the Clinton campaign is feeling desperate?

James Carville and J.C. Watts -- they are standing by for our "Strategy Session" this hour.

[...]

BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much for coming in. Listen to this little clip.

JAMES CARVILLE (CNN political analyst): All right.

BLITZER: Bill Clinton, explaining why he really wants his wife to be the next president of the United States.

CLINTON [video clip]: You know, the only reason to really support anybody for president is that you believe they'll be the best president. I've seen a lot of people come and go over time, and I like most of the people I've met in politics, but I can tell you that what I believed 35 years ago about Hillary -- that she has the best combination of mind and heart, of leadership ability and a feel for the human consequences of the decisions that a leader makes --

BLITZER: All right, J.C., let me go to you first, 'cause I know what James is going to say about Bill Clinton.

What do you think? Is it too early for Bill Clinton to be this actively involved in his wife's campaign? Or should he be on the sidelines a little bit more? What do you think, as a strategist?

WATTS: Well, Wolf, as a strategist, I guarantee you that the -- Senator Clinton's people have talked about that, and they've drawn the conclusion that it is good.

You know, if I'm a Democrat candidate, I want Bill Clinton engaged as early as possible. Now, I think you have to calculate, and you, obviously, you know, weigh the risks, the pros, the cons.

But, by and large, I think Bill Clinton is going to be very good for any Democrat candidate, and if his wife can't use him, who can?

[...]

CAFFERTY: Bubba is going to be back on the bus.

BLITZER: Yeah, and I suppose, Jack, a lot of Democrats are going to say he should play a very big role.

But, then again, a lot of Republicans are probably saying he should play a very big role, but they have different things in mind as far as what that role will achieve.

CAFFERTY: Well, there's great disaffection, along with great affection, for the former president and his wife, too. He* is, according to the polls, a kind of a divisive figure. So, you either love or you hate her. A lot of people will say we've had enough Clintons and Bushes to last several generations, but we'll see.

BLITZER: We'll see what our viewers think. Jack, thank you.

*CLARIFICATION: Based on CNN's transcript and Media Matters for America's interpretation of the audio, this item originally read, "Jack Cafferty claimed President Clinton 'is, according to the polls, a kind of a divisive figure.' " According to CNN's transcript, Cafferty said: "Well, there's great disaffection, along with great affection, for the former president and his wife, too. He is, according to the polls, a kind of a divisive figure." It is possible however, that Cafferty actually said, "Well, there's great disaffection, along with great affection, for the former president and his wife, too, is, according to the polls, a kind of a divisive figure" -- suggesting that both Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton are "divisive."

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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