'Today' Follows Nurse Hillary on Her Rounds in Labor Union Stunt

Yet another Democratic candidate played nurse for a day, as part of a stunt to garner labor union support, and once again "Today" show's cameras were there to cover the photo-op. On this morning's "Today" show, NBC's Andrea Mitchell followed Hillary Clinton as she made the rounds with a nurse to, both soften her image, and suck up to the Service Employees International Union.

Interestingly, "Today" didn't give Hillary quite the same glowing profile it gave Barack Obama last week, as Meredith Vieira expressed some skepticism as she asked: "Do you think the public buys any of this?" However, viewers were still treated to shots of Hillary talking to patients and sitting down with the nurse's family to say grace at the kitchen table as Mitchell dutifully declared: "She got her hands wet."

The following is the full piece at it was aired in the 7am half-hour of the August 14th "Today" show:

Meredith Vieira: "And now to an NBC News exclusive. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner in the race for the White House but political opponents have long questioned her warmth and sincerity. Well now she is trying to counter those critics. NBC's Andrea Mitchell spent a very unique day with her on the campaign trail. Andrea, good morning."

Andrea Mitchell: "Good morning to you Meredith. Well the Republicans, led by Karl Rove, are now calling Hillary Clinton, quote, 'fatally flawed,' although the likely nominee. So Senator Clinton is trying to remake her own image before her opponents, in both parties, do it for her."

Hillary Clinton: "I'm falling Michelle around today to see what a nurse does."

Mitchell: "To critics, focused on the rejection of her medical plan 13 years ago, health care is one of Hillary Clinton's biggest mistakes. So what better way to respond than to work a day in the shoes of a hospital nurse?"

Clinton to patient: "See you later."

Patient: "See you later."

Clinton: "Okay, that's a deal."

Clinton talking to Mitchell: "I think she told me that everyday is like five miles."

Mitchell: "Learning the ropes from nurse Michelle Estrada at St. Rose Hospital in Henderson, Nevada may also help Clinton win the endorsement of Michelle's union, the powerful service Employees International Union."

Anna Burger, Service Employees International Union: "Our members will only endorse a candidate if they walk a day in our shoes and understand what it's like to be a worker in America."

Unidentified man introducing Clinton: "Senator Hillary Clinton!"

Mitchell: "Labor is a major force in Nevada. Now scheduled to hold its caucuses early, right after Iowa. And in Iowa, Clinton's first television ad of the presidential campaign starts airing today."

[Begin clip from Hillary Clinton ad]

Hillary Clinton: "You know if you're a family that is struggling and you don't have health care, well you are invisible to this president."

[End clip]

Mitchell: "All a part of a critical make-over for a candidate far out front in national polls but still viewed in a new CNN/Gallup poll as less likeable than Barack Obama."

Clinton: "What I have found is that in a campaign I have a real chance for people to be disabused of a lot of the stereotypes and the caractitures about me."

Mitchell: "So while Clinton tries to project her warmth-"

[Begin clip of Clinton greeting nurse's family at the door]

Amy: "Hi!"

Clinton: "Hello."

Michelle Estrada: "This is my daughter Amy."

Clinton: "Amy it's a pleasure."

[End clip]

Mitchell: "-going home for dinner with Michelle and her family at the end of a long day-"

[Begin clip of Hillary sitting down with family at kitchen table, bowing head for grace]

Estrada: "Jacob would you offer the prayer for us?"

Jacob: "Yeah."

[End clip]

Mitchell: "-Republicans are trying to portray her as unelectable. Why are they targeting Clinton?"

Chuck Todd, NBC News political director: "The Republicans desperately want to run against Hillary Clinton from 1993. The woman who tried to revamp America's health care system. They believe if that person is the Democratic nominee they win."

Mitchell to Clinton: "Karl Rove, through a parting shot, said that you are 'fatally flawed,' as a candidate."

Clinton laughing: "Well aren't we glad to see him go, I think, is the answer to that. You know, I am thrilled to be running this campaign and to be getting the response that I'm getting all over the country."

Mitchell to Clinton: "And there was an Associated Press report quoting Democrats saying that you might pull down the ticket."

Clinton: "Well I'm ahead and I'm winning and I'm gaining support everywhere I go and I don't think I have any right to anybody's vote. I have to earn every vote and that's what I'm doing every day."

Mitchell: "And she certainly did, yesterday, pulling two-and-a-half hours out of a 12-hour nursing shift. It is very rare, of course, for a presidential candidate to show up and spend so much time on one visit, putting on a nurse's lab coat but it's partly for her, a defensive measure. She is trying to, at least, make sure that this very powerful union representing the nurses does not endorse one of her opponents, labor's favored candidate in many of these parts, John Edwards. Meredith."

Vieira: "Andrea I understand that she ended the day, the Senator, by actually washing the dishes before she left? Is that right?"

Mitchell: "She did, she pitched right in. She was clearing the table, washing the dishes, helping set the table. The kids had set the table before Michelle came home, after this very long shift. I mean that's one of the points. 12 hours these nurses are on their feet and as they say, you know walking five miles, practically, during the day. But she did pitch in. She got her hands wet and it was a rare moment for a presidential candidate spending, as I say, hours and hours on this one visit."

Vieira: "And last week we saw Senator Obama working as a home health care attendant."

Mitchell: "Right."

Vieira: "It really makes for wonderful pictures but do you think the public buys any of this?"

Mitchell: "Well, you know, she's followed by Secret Service agents, so is he, and the media, we were the, the one network permitted to be there. USA Today was also there. So clearly there's a crowd around her and there was around Barack Obama last week. But [at] the same time they do get a sense, at least, of some of the issues and some of the difficulties. There's a lot of human interaction, so even within that bubble it is possible to get a sense of what some of these union people are saying."

Vieira: "Alright, Andrea Mitchell. Thank you."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.