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Bob Schieffer’s Smokin’ Interview with Herman Cain; Update: Tom Brokaw ‘Stunned’ by Smoking Ad

By Doug Powers  •  October 30, 2011 02:46 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

This morning, Bob Schieffer interviewed Herman Cain on Face the Nation. The most pointed portions of the interview didn’t have anything to do with Cain’s 999 plan, the debt, unemployment or terrorism, but rather a Cain ad that features his chief of staff smoking a cigarette.

Business Insider:

Cain initially defended the ad, saying his campaign wants “Herman to be Herman.”

“Mark Block is a smoker, and we say, let Mark be Mark,” he said.

Cain said the campaign thought some would find the video to be funny, which prompted Schieffer to make an “editorial opinion” an chastise Cain for belittling the issue.

“Let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me,” Schieffer said. “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. 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.”

Within the realm of things that aren’t serving the country well in the world of politics today, I’d put Herman Cain’s chief of staff puffing a cigarette in an ad way down the list.

It’s not the first time a CBS News host has gotten cranky about the topic of smoking. Earlier this year, Schieffer himself got preachy with John Boehner about the Speaker’s cigarette habit, and it’s been said that in 1952 Edward R. Murrow got so upset with Adlai Stevenson’s refusal to join him in a smoke that Murrow cut the interview short.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the Cain web ad in question:

Schieffer’s obviously concerned that the Cain campaign’s answer to “Let’s Move” will be to encourage people to walk a mile for a Camel, but so far maybe it will make Bob feel better to know that, as of today, I haven’t heard a single kid say “I want to smoke just like Mark Block.”

Here’s Cain’s interview on Face the Nation today:

Related: Cain is smoking in Iowa — oops, sorry Bob — I meant “polling well so far.”

Update: Bob Schieffer is now joined by Tom Brokaw, who is “stunned” by Cain’s smoking ad:

“I must say on the Cain thing, I was stunned by that ad that he did with his campaign manager, ending up smoking a cigarette. Which, in my judgment, is one of the great health hazards in America in terms of lethal diseases, and also the costs of it all. I think that maybe 9-9-9 stands for get nine months to live with lung cancer, nine months to live with emphysema, nine months to live with coronary artery disease. I can’t imagine why they thought that was an effective image,” Brokaw said on “Meet the Press.”

Maybe they thought it would be an effective image because it was an inexpensively produced web ad for a campaign that doesn’t have as much money as some others and it might receive significant free-of-charge airplay and discussion on network television. We’ll see if that happens.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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