Both Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd were taken aback by Barack Obama delivering a "personal connection moment" in today's press conference when he told reporters that his daughter Malia asked him: "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" Of the anecdote Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, exclaimed "Talk about a sound bite guys!" and declared he delivered "personally there, in a way he rarely does." Matthews went on to say it was remarkable that he'd reveal that private story in front of the press because he "hates" them. For his part, NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd claimed the sharing of his "gut moment" may "calm down" some of the President's critics. [audio available here]
The following exchange was aired on the May 27 Hardball:
BARACK OBAMA: My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands, this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about. The spill. The, and it's not just me, by the way. When I woke up this morning, and I'm shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?"
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball that was President Obama near the end of his press conference, about an hour into it. And boy was that a sound, talk about a sound bite guys! Did the President deliver? I'd say personally there, in a way he rarely does. Chuck Todd is NBC News' White House correspondent and political director. And Newsweek's Howard Fineman. Well okay you two pros. Here's the question, President Obama is notoriously private, Chuck Todd. He hates the press's, well he may hate us generally, but he hates our invasive-ness, period. That's a fact.
CHUCK TODD: Right.
MATTHEWS: The fact that he resorted to that personal declaration about his family and his daughter bringing her in. I thought it was fine, I thought it was good. But what brought him to that point? Chuck?
TODD: You know it's funny, it was almost as if a light bulb went off in his head as he - because the press conference was very, you know, he was having to talk about the law, that 1990 oil drilling law. And he kept having to cite it. He kept having to talk about the government's relationship to BP and not be able to just beat up on BP maybe the way you would politically wish you could do in a moment like this. And it was as if he realized he wasn't really connecting. And then all of a sudden, at the end there, with that entire, you know, "This is all I'm working on. I wake up, this is what I'm worrying about number one at this point." And then the moment with his daughter. I think it was, I don't know if that quiets James Carville or if it totally satisfies and some others who've been upset down there but I gotta think that, that moment helps at least calm down Carville and some other critics a little bit. Because it was, that was more of a gut moment. It was more of a that's, that personal connection moment that, you know, this guy has never been, it's never been how he practices politics. He's really more cerebral about these things.