Bob Schieffer by John Paul Filo/CBS
Once the presidential election campaign heats up, Sunday-morning public affairs shows such as
Face the Nation
are must-views for political junkies. But this time around we'll also be watching a victory lap for CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and
moderator Bob Schieffer, who expects the 2008 campaign to be the last he'll cover for the network he's called home for more than 30 years. The Biz recently caught Schieffer's country band Honky Tonk Confidential in New York and we're happy to report he has a music career to fall back on. He shared his thoughts about 2008 and beyond.
TVGuide.com: I hate to even say this, but will this really be your last presidential cycle?
It probably is. I've always left that as something of a question mark. I'm going to stay for sure through the inauguration. Quite frankly, I don't know what I'm going to do after that. I'll have some sort of relationship with CBS. But I think Inauguration Day is probably going to be my last in the role I have now. I've always taken it a year or so at a time, depending on how I feel. There was one point [where] I thought I would retire at 70. But they asked me to stay and I was feeling good. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing through most of next year and at least through the inauguration. Then after that we'll kind of figure out where we go from there. I've [been] doing some stuff for TCU - they named a journalism school after me down there. I don't know if I want to teach full-time, but I want to do a little more for them and probably less here.
TVGuide.com: And you're working on another book...?
It's going to be a collection of my commentaries (given at the end of each week's
Face the Nation
). It's more than just a collection. I'm also going to do commentaries on the commentaries.
TVGuide.com: You're the only network correspondent who gets to do a weekly on-air commentary. How did that happen?
I've done more than 800 of them. The first was in 1994 on the weekend after Nixon died. I just thought the program needed a little button that day. I said something like "he left the White House in disgrace, but he left this life with some dignity." I got all this mail. I tried it again and I got a lot more mail. I just kept doing it and never knew whether I was allowed to, under CBS' rules about correspondents doing analysis and commentary. [I thought], "If I can't do it, they'll tell me." No one said a word. Then I won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for best commentary on television. Everybody in New York called and said, "Great work, keep it up, Bob - we've been loving those commentaries."
TVGuide.com: We know presidential candidates love airtime, but they don't always seem to love coming on the Sunday shows.
It's interesting. Before he ran for president, Bob Dole went on the Sunday shows the way some people play golf. It was his venue. I think Dole was on
Face the Nation
more than anybody else at the time - [although] John McCain has probably passed him by now. Once Dole got the nomination, his advisors banned him from being on the Sunday shows. Political consultants hate any kind of venue where the candidate doesn't have total control - they know we've done our homework. But I think they make a terrible mistake. I think it hurts them all. Take a guy like Dole - it was the place where he was most comfortable.
TVGuide.com: Are you going to be hitting the road to cover the campaign?
I'm going to be in Iowa for the caucus night. I'll be there with Katie Couric for the
CBS Evening News
. On Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, we're talking about some extended coverage. The other question is if it all gets settled, and it may well be by mid-February, what are we going to do after that? I would love it if the two parties had a special meeting (instead of conventions) to certify them as candidates. Wouldn't it be great to have them fly around the country on the same airplane and have debates?