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.”