At the top of Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly touted an Obama campaign photo-op: "One pizza shop owner in Florida got a little excited when he met President Obama, gave him a bear hug and then lifted him up....By the way, he's a Republican." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd announced that Obama had "clearly found a bounce in his campaign step, on display as he visited a Florida sports bar, even making a birther joke....Later the President got a whole new lesson in retail politics, when he got a very enthusiastic welcome from a Florida pizza shop owner."
It's interesting that NBC couldn't manage to report the name of the pizza shop owner, yet was sure he was a Republican. The man's name was Scott Van Duzer, a "registered Republican," but one who voted for Obama in 2008.
Todd began his report by proclaiming that Obama was winning the presidential race, it was just a matter of by how much: "In this post-convention period, while both campaigns acknowledge the President is ahead, the question is how significant is that lead?"
While detailing Mitt Romney being on Sunday's Meet the Press, Todd remarked that the Republican offered "few specifics" about his tax reform plan and promoted how Obama "fired back" at Romney over "that lack of specifics." In the clip that followed, Obama sneered: "You've got to do the math because when my opponents were asked about it today they couldn't. It was like two plus one equals five."
Todd then added that Romney "seemed like a candidate focused on a primary rather than a general election, appearing on stage with Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach and endorsing Representative Steve King in Iowa, best known for his tough anti-immigration rhetoric."
So just to clarify, a Republican candidate for President met with a prominent evangelical pastor and endorsed an incumbent Iowa Republican congressman while at a campaign event with that member of Congress in Iowa. Meanwhile, Sandra Fluke got a primetime speaking slot during the Democratic National Convention to call Republicans a bunch of bigots and NBC said nothing.
Wrapping up his report, Todd attempted to bolster the Obama-winning narrative by noting: "And for the first time in five months, the Obama campaign has out-raised the Romney campaign in a monthly period, it's only by $2 million, but it was 114 million to 112 million."
In the segment that followed Todd's report, co-host Savannah Guthrie began by asking Meet the Press host David Gregory: "Is there a sense in the Romney campaign that they know they're behind at this point?" Gregory replied: "I think they do. I think they understand, and I discussed it with Governor Romney, that beating an incumbent is very difficult, even when you've got economic troubles in your favor politically."
Here is a full transcript of Todd's September 10 report:
7:02AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Also ahead, what would you do if you got the chance to meet the President of the United States in person? Well, one pizza shop owner in Florida got a little excited when he met President Obama, gave him a bear hug and then lifted him up. Doesn't the Secret Service frown on things like that? By the way, he's a Republican. We'll talk to him this morning about what he was thinking.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I think he did pre-clear it with Secret Service, which is probably a good thing.
7:05AM ET SEGMENT:
GUTHRIE: Now to presidential politics and the election less than two months away. Mitt Romney heads to the battleground state of Ohio today, While President Obama is sticking close to home. Chuck Todd is NBC's political director, chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Candidates Hit Swing States With Less Than 60 Days to Go]
CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Savannah. Look, with both conventions now behind us, it's a 57-day sprint through nine states. And in this post-convention period, while both campaigns acknowledge the President is ahead, the question is how significant is that lead?
MITT ROMNEY: And I have really two months to be able to convince people I can do a better job than the incumbent.
TODD: On Meet the Press, Mitt Romney shed new light on several of his positions, like the auto bailout, where he tried to sound like he had the same stance as the Obama/Biden ticket.
ROMNEY: My view was, General Motors should have gone into bankruptcy earlier, the President resisted that for six months. I said let them go into bankruptcy, help them come out, but let them go in. And I don't think most Americans know that GM went bankrupt.
TODD: And Romney clarified his opposition to ObamaCare, saying he'd keep some of the law's most popular features.
ROMNEY: There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family, up to whatever age they might like.
TODD: Romney again tried to blame the President alone for a bipartisan debt deal that includes some potential deep cuts in defense spending, but when pressed, criticized House Republicans, too.
ROMNEY: I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it, I think it was a mistake for the Republicans to go along with it.
TODD: But on the issue of tax reform and how he would get to a balanced budget, Romney offered few specifics on which tax loopholes he'd eliminate.
ROMNEY: I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down.
TODD: Campaigning in Florida, President Obama fired back on Sunday at that lack of specifics.
BARACK OBAMA: You've got to do the math because when my opponents were asked about it today they couldn't. It was like two plus one equals five.
TODD: Meanwhile over the weekend, Romney seemed like a candidate focused on a primary rather than a general election, appearing on stage with Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach and endorsing Representative Steve King in Iowa, best known for his tough anti-immigration rhetoric.
ROMNEY: And this man needs to be your congressman again.
TODD: As for the President, as he searches for a bounce in the polls, he's clearly found a bounce in his campaign step, on display as he visited a Florida sports bar, even making a birther joke as he chatted with a six-year-old boy.
OBAMA: You were born in Hawaii? Do you have a birth certificate?
TODD: Later the President got a whole new lesson in retail politics, when he got a very enthusiastic welcome from a Florida pizza shop owner.
[FOOTAGE OF MAN LIFTING OBAMA IN A BEAR HUG]
Overnight we got some fundraising numbers for both campaigns. And for the first time in five months, the Obama campaign has out-raised the Romney campaign in a monthly period, it's only by $2 million, but it was 114 million to 112 million. It's just a reminder, Savannah, there's a lot of money is out there. Money is not going to decide this presidential election.
GUTHRIE: Alright, Chuck Todd, thank you.