Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on Fox News' 'The Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

CBS's O'Donnell Suggests Obama's Reelection is a Done Deal

CBS's Norah O'Donnell played the role of a clairvoyant on Tuesday's Early Show as she hinted that President Obama's reelection is assured in 2012. Anchor Erica Hill asked O'Donnell how the White House viewed the debt ceiling bill. She replied, "I think they feel like this was... not necessarily a victory for the President. He did get an extension of this debt ceiling through 2012 and through his reelection" [video clips available here; audio can be downloaded here].

Hill brought on the new CBS News White House correspondent, as well as Nancy Cordes, their congressional correspondent, to discuss the return of Rep. Gabby Giffords to the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday and their passage of the compromise debt ceiling legislation. Towards the end of the segment, after she and O'Donnell laughed it up about Vice President Biden's crack about Giffords being part of the "cracked heads club," the anchor asked her question about the White House's take on the bill. Her colleague replied with her off-the-cuff prediction:

HILL: ...[S]o this vote is supposed to happen in just a matter of hours. It would then, once passed by the Senate, go to the President's desk. What is the sense from the White House over the last- let's say, 24 hours- about how we got to this point and how it is, as the President prepares to sign that?

O'DONNELL: Well, the President will sign it today. I think we'll probably see the President make some remarks again about it today. I think they feel like this was a victory for the American people, not necessarily a victory for the President. He did get an extension of this debt ceiling through 2012 and through his reelection. We avoided catastrophic default. But on the issues of doing some sort of grand bargain, some real reform that addresses the real problems that are facing America, I think there is a sense that this was a lost opportunity to immediately tackle tax reform, to immediately tackle entitlement reform. They say, look, that committee, the super committee in Congress, is going to look at that stuff. But I think there is a sense of a little bit like, man, we could have done something really big here, and that was a lost opportunity.

Just over a month ago, O'Donnell claimed on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show that President Obama "has more aggressively prosecuted the quote unquote War on Terror – if you like that phrase, some don't – than Bush did." Perhaps that's the reason why the CBS News correspondent is so confident of the Democrat's victory.

The full transcript of Erica Hill's segment with Norah O'Donnell and Nancy Cordes on Tuesday's Early Show, which aired nine minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:

ERICA HILL: For more now on the return of Congresswoman Giffords and what it means to Washington, we want to bring in CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell, and also bring back Nancy Cordes from Capitol Hill, our congressional correspondent.

Norah, I'll start with you. You're right here next to me. We've seen a little bit about the reaction in Congress. We can't get enough of those pictures. What about the White House? Did the President have any idea that she was coming?

NORAH O'DONNELL: The White House did get a heads-up. This was, of course, top secret in Washington. But they knew about it, and the Vice President was dispatched to Capitol Hill, and was able to greet Gabby Giffords on the floor. And clearly, everyone very happy about this, because when the American people are doubting the political willpower of the people in that body, here's someone who had incredible physical willpower to will herself back to Washington, after a gunshot wound to the head.

HILL: Yeah, and to make that walk in there. Nancy, there was so much talk, there was a plea from the President, from a number of lawmakers, for civility after this terrible tragedy in January. That's not what we saw the last few weeks. We just asked Congresswoman [Debbie] Wasserman Schultz about this, but what was the feeling on the floor? Is there, perhaps, a little bit more civility that could last, thanks to Congresswoman Giffords?

NANCY CORDES: Well, just for a few days, Erica. I mean, I think that the long-term political issues that divide these two parties sort of supersede the goodwill that they have towards this one member of Congress. They do love her. They were thrilled that she came back last night. But I think it might be a little bit too much to expect that her mere presence is going to dissipate all the anger that exists here over certain policies.

There was this incredible surprise last night when we saw people cheering and clapping, we thought, oh, maybe they're clapping because the bill is about to pass. And then, we saw Congresswoman Giffords there on the floor, surrounded by members of the right and the left, hugging her, embracing her and cheering, and Vice President welcome- Vice President Biden, welcoming her to the cracked head club, because he himself has had two craniotomies. (Hill laughs) You know, only the type of phrase that the Vice President would use. But there was certainly a lot of excitement down there on the floor last night, and everybody put their hard feelings aside.

HILL: Yeah, I think that was the consensus, that only the Vice President may make that comparison and be able to get away with it, we should say-

O'DONNELL: (laughs) Yeah-

HILL: But as we move forward today, of course, so this vote is supposed to happen in just a matter of hours. It would then, once passed by the Senate, go to the President's desk. What is the sense from the White House over the last- let's say, 24 hours- about how we got to this point and how it is, as the President prepares to sign that?

O'DONNELL: Well, the President will sign it today. I think we'll probably see the President make some remarks again about it today. I think they feel like this was a victory for the American people, not necessarily a victory for the President. He did get an extension of this debt ceiling through 2012 and through his reelection. We avoided catastrophic default. But on the issues of doing some sort of grand bargain, some real reform that addresses the real problems that are facing America, I think there is a sense that this was a lost opportunity to immediately tackle tax reform, to immediately tackle entitlement reform. They say, look, that committee, the super committee in Congress, is going to look at that stuff. But I think there is a sense of a little bit like, man, we could have done something really big here, and that was a lost opportunity.

HILL: Yeah, that and, oh, wow, another bipartisan committee. Well, we'll continue to follow it. Norah, Nancy, thank you both very much.

—Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.