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CBS's Rose Badgers Romney Adviser on Iran; Interrupts Six Times in 50 Seconds

One might have thought that Charlie Rose received an extra dose of caffeine before Friday's CBS This Morning, as the normally-subdued anchor hounded Romney campaign adviser Dan Senor on how the Republican presidential nominee would change policy toward Iran. Rose wouldn't let Senor complete an answer, interrupting six different times in 50 seconds.  [audio available here; video below]

By contrast, 11 days earlier, the veteran TV host tossed softballs at Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on the issue of ObamaCare, and merely prompted Durbin on the issue of the Chicago teachers strike.

About two minutes into the five-minute segment, Rose asked his guest, "What is the single biggest difference on foreign policy between Governor Romney and President Obama?"  Senor answered that "the biggest crisis facing the United States, from a national security viewpoint, is Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability. And tragically, the Obama administration really wasted the first couple of years of its administration on a failed strategy to isolate Iran, to ramp up economic pressure on Iran."

Before the Romney aide could complete his thought, however, the CBS anchor interjected, "So, if Governor Romney is elected president, what's the first thing he would do about Iran and its effort to have a nuclear capacity?" When Senor replied that "what he [Romney] would not have done is waste as much time as the Obama administration," Rose interrupted again: "No, but the campaign is about what you would do, not what you wouldn't do, as you know, and it's about the future."

The foreign policy adviser tried yet again to finish his statement, but the TV personality cut in three more times:

SENOR: So he would not have wasted the time that the administration-

ROSE: What will he do, Dan?

SENOR: And he would ramp up – ramp up – he would ramp up economic pressure on Iran, even more-

ROSE: What economic pressure that is not ramped up would he use?

SENOR: There are tougher, much tougher sanctions that Congress has been advocating for-

ROSE: Like?

SENOR: That the administration has been – the administration has been resistant to some of these sanctions....

Rose would interrupt Senor one more time during the remaining two minutes of the interview. When his guest raised the recent attacks on American diplomatic facilities in the Islamic world, as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria, the journalist strangely reemphasized the fact that the election "this election is about the future" and asked, "What would the nominee for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, do in Syria that's not being done today?"

During his September 10, 2012 interview of Durbin, the CBS anchor set up the Senate majority whip to forward the Democratic caucus's talking points against Romney: "So, what do you make of this: Romney saying that on these two provisions [of ObamaCare], he wants to keep them - two things that I would assume people – most people are in favor of?"

The transcript of the relevant portion of Dan Senor segment from Friday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Dan, your expertise is foreign policy. You're traveling with the vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. What is the single biggest difference on foreign policy between Governor Romney and President Obama?

SENOR: I would say, Charlie, the biggest crisis facing the United States, from a national security viewpoint, is Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability. And tragically, the Obama administration really wasted the first couple of years of its administration on a failed strategy to isolate Iran, to ramp up economic pressure on Iran-

ROSE: So – so, if Governor Romney is elected president, what's the first thing he would do about Iran and its effort to have a nuclear capacity?

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Romney Adviser On Foreign Policy"]

SENOR: Well, I would say, first of all, what he would not have done is waste as much time as the Obama administration – no-

ROSE: No, but the campaign is about what you would do, not what you wouldn't do, as you know, and it's about the future-

SENOR: Of course, no, no – yeah, absolutely. So he would not have wasted the time that the administration-

ROSE: What will he do, Dan?

SENOR: And he would ramp up – ramp up – he would ramp up economic pressure on Iran, even more-

ROSE: What economic pressure that is not ramped up would he use?

SENOR: There are tougher, much tougher sanctions that Congress has been advocating for-

ROSE: Like?

SENOR: That the administration has been – the administration has been resistant to some of these sanctions - to not giving waivers to certain financial institutions around the world. So, Congress has passed tough sanctions against Iran. There are waivers in those sanctions. The administration has used-

ROSE: Should-

SENOR: These waivers too much, to let people get out of these sanctions. Let me finish. He would also – this is very important here. We do not advocate military action against Iran. It should be the option of last resort. However, what the administration has done is broadcast to Tehran - to the mullahs in Tehran - that the military option is the absolute one thing America doesn't want anybody to do. And so, the threat of military action is not credible. So, we need to ramp up economic pressure, increase diplomatic isolation, and make the threat of military action credible.

But Charlie, it's not just Iran. It's not just Iran. We're watching, right now, the whole region unravel. You look at 20,000 innocent civilians dead in Syria. You look at Iran getting closer to a nuclear bomb. You see – you know, Salafists and extremists storming our embassies. There is a sense, Charlie-

ROSE: This election is about the future. What would the nominee for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, do in Syria that's not being done today?

SENOR: Sure. Yeah, and I think that's an important question, because you got to take all these – all these countries one by one. On Syria, it's been over a year since the President has said Bashar Assad must go. Bashar Assad is still in power. America looks impotent in the region. So, a President Romney would look to do more to help the opposition movement on the ground in Syria - working with our allies, like the Turks, like the Saudis, like the Qatarese, to get the opposition more training, more resources, more weapons - really coordinate the effort, and would not have dragged its feet as long as we have, to give the opposition assistance. They've been calling out for American leadership for a long time. They haven't – and this is in America's national security interest. Bashar Assad is Tehran's closest ally. An Assad falling would be a strategic blow to Iran.

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll: Confidence In Handling Foreign Policy: Among Likely Voters: Obama, 49%; Romney, 39%; Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. Dan Senor, we hope to have you back. Thank you very much.

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