PHILADELPHIA, PA.-- Pool report from Sen. Barack Obama's taping of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
Pool Report #2
Pittsburgh Video Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
6:45 p.m. Obama tapes an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” by video hookup. Obama campaign moving partial transcript shortly.
Highlights at the top:
*Obama told Stewart during their interview that after starting out 20 points behind Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, “The polls are now showing us about 6 to 8” points behind.
*Stewart told Obama what the real concern voters have is: “The Rev. Wright controversy, the flag pin controversy. . . Will you pull a bait-and-switch, sir, and enslave the white race. Is that your plan? And if it is your plan, be honest, tell us now!” Obama’s response (laughing, not mad): “That is not our plan, Jon, but I think your paranoia might make you suitable as a debate moderator.”
For the rest, your pooler will divide this report into two sections – my mostly unsuccessful attempt to get a quote from Sen.Obama re. the Clinton campaign’s ad invoking Osama Bin Laden, and then the Jon Stewart appearance.
On the way into the studio, I asked Obama why he felt it important to respond to the late-breaking Clinton ad with an ad of his own and what he thought of her ad. “Are you supposed to be doing this with the pool?” he asked, and laughed. Then he sat down and had the earpiece put in. I asked him if he’d give us a comment after the taping and he said, “Maybe, it depends on how well behaved you are.” But then after the taping, I was whisked off ahead of him and didn’t get to bug him again.
In between, I asked strategist David Axelrod again about the Clinton ad. His response: “The irony of it is, she supported the president on the war and that’s one of the main reasons why Osama bin Laden is still free. And then you know to include him in this ad and emulate the sort of fear-mongering that we’ve seen over the last eight years is really ironic. She didn’t have the judgment to see that we were diverting our attention from bin Laden and now she’s using Bin Laden in an ad to say that she is the one who is ready to be president?”
(The way the studio was set up, you couldn’t hear Jon Stewart’s questions from the room Obama was in unless you had an earpiece, which I was not provided and you couldn’t hear Obama’s answers or see his face from the control room. So this is cobbled together from tapes we rolled in each room.)
Prior to the interview with Stewart, Obama sat in front of the camera (which was not rolling at the time) with an earpiece in listening to the show being taped. He swung his right leg back and forth and at times chuckled, grinned and laughed.
Stewart and the show’s senior black correspondent and comedian Larry Wilmore talked about the speculation about whether Obama had been giving Clinton “the finger” after the debate last week. Cut to video. “Are you shi—ing me?” Stewart said. “THIS is a flip-off.” And he demonstrated. “What if he was just scratching his face?” Stewart asked.
Wilmore joked, “Black people’s face don’t itch.. . black people have a whole set of physical gestures only we can understand.” Wilmore called it “blanguage” which he defined as a “secret black language.” Obama was laughing uncontrollably (still off camera).and briefly did his own subtle finger face itch. Obama’s smiled waned a bit when Wilmore went on to this joke: “Look at Rev. Wright. All he said was G-D America and everybody went crazy. He could have said the same thing in blanguage and nobody would have been the wiser.”
Here’s what Obama told Stewart about the Pennsylvania primary once their interview started:
*“It is a mad dash but the people of Pennsylvania have been terrific.”
*“We think there’s going to be high turnout tomorrow.” He said after starting 20 points down “the polls are not showing us about 6 to 8” points behind.
*Obama said Clinton’s tough campaigning did him “a favor” . . . . “She has put me through the paces,” he said. If he wins the nomination, he said, everything’s “going to be old news” by the general election.