NEW YORK – If you were left cold by Sunday night's hotly anticipated 60 Minutes showdown between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, you weren't alone.
60 Minutes chief Don Hewitt wasn't happy, either, and said he thought Dole needs work -- and that the feature will have to be juiced up a bit.
"We're going to make sure it looks like more of a confrontation next time," Hewitt told The New York Post yesterday.
"I don't think Dole really came to grips in the manner that he's famous for in his response to Clinton, and we're going to try to plug those holes."
Hewitt said Dole "knows he can do better -- he called me and said, 'I don't think I was as sharp as I could have been.'
"Clinton is Clinton -- he's very smooth and there's no question that when he gets through, you know what he said," Hewitt said.
"But you weren't quite sure whether Dole was talking about a tax cut or fighting Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein at the same time."
Hewitt gave himself "a B+ for effort and a C+ for accomplishment" for the 21/2-minute "Clinton & Dole" segment, which aired halfway through Sunday's show and pitted the ex-president against his former GOP opponent.
"We made a big mistake in not saying what the subject was before they started," Hewitt said of the debate, which focused on how tax cuts could affect a possible war with Iraq.
"If we posed [the subject] in a simple proposition, they would have played off each other better."
Hewitt also addressed what many critics complained about yesterday -- that Clinton and Dole, taped at separate locations (Dole in D.C., Clinton in New York) seemed strangely disconnected from each other.
"We can't tape them together in the same place -- these guys have commitments all over," he said. "This worked for us once before with James Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander, and it should work this time around.
"It's all about the words," Hewitt said. "I'm one of the few guys in television who realized a lot of years ago that this is a business about words -- not necessarily about pictures."
60 Minutes viewers, meanwhile, gave the Clinton/Dole team a thumbs-up.
The "Clinton & Dole" segment notched an 11.6 overnight rating, up 5 percent from its March 2 overnight numbers (final numbers will be available today).
Clinton and Dole inked a deal to appear on this season's final 10 segments of 60 Minutes -- and it's a good bet they will reappear next season if their ratings continue to hold up.