It was an admirable performance by Bob Schieffer this morning on “Face The Nation” when the CBS host took off after Herman Cain for one of the most unsettling ads that has been foisted on the American public this election cycle. Someone needed to confront Herman Cain and tell him that smoking is a dreadful health hazard, costs untold millions of dollars in health care each year, and claims far too many lives due to a whole host of diseases.
I am shocked Cain is not aware of this already. But from Cain’s campaign ad that was released last week it is clear the candidate needs more information.
CBS host Bob Schieffer on Sunday made no secret of his distaste for the Herman Cain web ad that has gone viral, upbraiding the Republican presidential candidate on “Face the Nation” for celebrating smoking.
Cain refused to take the ad down when Schieffer pressed him, but under pressure from the moderator the former pizza baron encouraged those watching not to smoke.
Schieffer started off the testy exchange by demanding to know the point of the ad.
“One of the things within this campaign is, let Herman be Herman,” Cain said. “Mark Block is a smoker, and we say, let Mark be Mark. He doesn’t deny that he’s a smoker.”
Schieffer asked if Cain smokes.
“No, I’m not a smoker,” he said. But I don’t have a problem if that his choice…This wasn’t intended to send any subliminal signal whatsoever.”
“But it does,” Schieffer told him. “It sends the signal that it’s cool to smoke.”
“No, it does not,” Cain shot back. “Mark Block smokes. That’s all that ad says. We weren’t trying to say it’s cool to smoke.”
Cain said he admires Block, who is his campaign chief of staff, for not smoking around him or anyone else in the office. He said he always goes outside to smoke.
“He smokes on television,” Schieffer said, refusing to let up. “Was it meant to be funny?”
“It was meant to be informative,” Cain said.
“Let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me,” Schieffer said, noting that he is a cancer survivor. “I don’t think it serves the country well, and this is an editorial opinion here, to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. You’re the frontrunner now, and it seems to me as frontrunner you would have a responsibility not to take that kind of a tone in this campaign. I would suggest that perhaps as the frontrunner you’d want to raise the level in the campaign.”
“We will do that, Bob, and I do respect your objection to the ad,” Cain said. “Probably about 30 percent of the feedback was very similar to yours. It was not intended to offend anyone. Being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to that sort of thing.”
Schieffer asked Cain if he’s thought about taking the ad down: “Why don’t you take it off the Internet?”
“Once you put it on the Internet, it goes viral,” Cain said. “It’s nearly impossible to erase that ad from the Internet.”
Schieffer asked Cain if he would tell people it is not cool to smoke.
“I will have no problem saying that,” Cain said.
“Well, say it right now,” Schieffer said, pressing him.
Cain looked to the camera.
“Young people of America, all people, do not smoke,” he said. “It is hazardous and it’s dangerous to your health.”
“Don’t smoke. I never smoke, and I have encouraged people not to smoke,” he added.
“And it’s not a cool thing to do,” Schieffer said, prodding him along.
“It is not a cool thing to do,” Cain said. “That’s not what it was trying to say.”