While NBC's Today on Thursday characterized President Obama's attacks on congressional Republicans as "feisty," on Friday, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell appeared on the broadcast and declared that "Republicans made it unusually personal" in responding to the White House criticism.
Despite the President's claim in his Wednesday press conference that his daughters worked harder than GOP members of Congess, O'Donnell focused on Republican mudslinging: "The summer heat must really be getting to them around here with more than the usual frustration in both parties over the debt limit showdown and more personal comments directed to the President from Republicans."
O'Donnell noted that "Republicans were so irked, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts suggested the President needed a pill." A sound bite followed from Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who suggested the President should "just take a Valium and calm down."
While mentioning that Obama had left Washington to attend campaign fundraiser in Philadelphia, O'Donnell skeptically added: "Republicans complained that the President had quote, 'lectured them' to cancel events."
On Thursday's Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd described the President's Republican bashing as taking a page from "the Harry Truman playbook." However, unlike O'Donnell, he acknowledged tough language from both sides: "Today was the day that Republicans got the opportunity to strike back. Responding to the presidential tongue lashing, Senate Republicans did their own lashing out today."
At the end of his report, Todd asserted that Obama was now above the fray, despite having started the war of words: "The President, though, at that fundraiser that he did tonight, so far said – didn't take any of the low road or any of that stuff, he took the high road and said no more attacks, the public just simply wants us to exchange ideas."
Here is a full transcript of O'Donnell's July 1 report:
MATT LAUER: It will not be much of a celebration on Capitol Hill. After being called out by President Obama, the Senate has now canceled its planned July 4th recess. But not before Republicans fired off some choice words for the President. Kelly O'Donnell is NBC's Capitol Hill correspondent. Kelly, good morning to you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "He Should Be Ashamed"; Republicans Strike Back at Obama Over Debt Crisis]
KELLY O'DONNELL: Good morning, Matt. The summer heat must really be getting to them around here with more than the usual frustration in both parties over the debt limit showdown and more personal comments directed to the President from Republicans. There's a kind of one-ups-manship about which party is working harder and acting more seriously. Visiting a south Philly favorite, the President ordered up a campaign style photo-op and a lemon ice.
BARACK OBAMA: Outstanding. I strongly recommend it.
O'DONNELL: But that won't beat the political heat. Republicans took offense at President Obama's swipe at Congress for not working hard enough to solve the debt crisis.
JOHN CORNYN [SEN. R-TX]: Absolutely disgraceful. He should be ashamed.
O'DONNELL: Republicans made it unusually personal.
CORNYN: I respect the Office of President of the United States, but I think the President has diminished that office and himself by giving the kind of campaign speeches that he gave yesterday.
O'DONNELL: Jumping on the President's 'work harder' challenge, Democrat Harry Reid canceled the July 4th break.
HARRY REID: We'll do that because we have work to do.
O'DONNELL: And Republican leader Mitch McConnell made his own offer.
MITCH MCCONNELL: I'd like to invite the President to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans.
O'DONNELL: To explain to the President directly that a deal with tax increases is doomed.
JAY CARNEY: We know what that position is. And he also invited them to hear – invited the President to hear what would not pass. That's not a conversation worth having.
O'DONNELL: Republicans were so irked, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts suggested the President needed a pill.
PAT ROBERTS [SEN. R-KS]: Maybe if he'd just take a Valium and calm down and come on down and talk to us, why, it might be helpful.
O'DONNELL: The President already had other plans.
OBAMA: Hello, Philly!
O'DONNELL: He attended campaign events expected to raise $2.5 million. Republicans complained that the President had quote, 'lectured them' to cancel events.
RAND PAUL [SEN. R-KY]: I'm here today though, Mr. President. Where are you? My understanding is the President's campaigning, has a fund-raiser in Philadelphia tonight.
O'DONNELL: And Mitt Romney, who was also campaigning in Pennsylvania, joined in.
MITT ROMNEY: The President ought to be in Washington meeting with Republicans, meeting with Democrats. He shouldn't leave that town until he has an understanding of what it's going to take to get this economy going again.
O'DONNELL: And another unusual twist – Republicans boycotted a Senate Finance Committee meeting dealing with trade agreements they actually support. They said that they were tired of the White House quote, 'jamming them' with some last-minute additions that they didn't get a chance to thoroughly review. None of them showed up. It was quite a sight and a sign of how tough things have gotten. Matt.
LAUER: Alright, Kelly O'Donnell on Capitol Hill this morning. Kelly, thank you very much.