Herman Cain gets tongue lashing from CBS for cigarette smoking in ad

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Republican presidential front-runner Herman Cain got a tongue lashing on Sunday from CBS’s Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer over a much-publicized campaign ad showing Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, taking a drag from a cigarette.

In a rare “editorial opinion” during the interview, Schieffer accused the former Godfather’s CEO of allowing his campaign to send a signal that “it’s cool to smoke.”

“Let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me,” Schieffer told Cain. “I am a cancer survivor, like you. I had cancer that’s smoking-related. I don’t think its serves the country well — and this an editorial opinion here — to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. And you’re the front-runner now.”

Schieffer added: “And it seems to me as front-runner you would have a responsibility of not to take that kind of a tone. I would suggest that perhaps as the front-runner, you would want to raise the level of the campaign.”

Cain responded that, “We will do that Bob, and I do respect your objection to the ad. And probably about 30 percent of the feedback was very similar to yours. It was not intended to offend anyone and being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to that sort of thing.”

The online ad went viral last week on the Internet and on cable TV, precisely because it was unorthodox. The ad shows Block taking a smoke from a cigarette after asking voters to “get involved” in the campaign.

During the interview on Sunday, Schieffer said to Cain: “I just have to ask you, what is the point of that, having a man smoke a cigarette in a television commercial?”

Cain responded that, “One of the themes in this campaign is let Herman be Herman. Mark Block is a smoker. And we say, let Mark be Mark. That’s all we’re trying to say because we believe let people be people. He doesn’t deny he’s a smoker.”


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