In an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried that the Republican National Convention was not appealing to a broad audience: "When you talk about the conservatives and we talk about the gender gap and how important women are...do you think this convention is reaching out to the people who are going to decide this election, independents, moderates and women?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Earlier in the show, Lauer hyped the same concern while talking to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, wondering if Paul Ryan's "staunchly conservative views on topics like abortion" created a "fear" among Republicans that female voters would be turned off.
Referring to the GOP gathering, Lauer asked O'Reilly: "When you look at what's gone on here over the last couple of days and what will go on here tonight, are conventions necessary anymore?" One wonders if Lauer will ask the same question next week during the Democratic convention.
For his part, O'Reilly suggested an abbreviated schedule for both sides: "How much bloviating can you take? Two days, one night for the vice president, one night for the presidential nominee. And it's going to be worse in Charlotte. What are they going to talk about there next week? What?"
O'Reilly was also on the show to promote his latest children's book, Lincoln's Last Days, and implored: "We gotta get the kids back involved with their country. I mean, they think the United States of America lives on the internet. We've got to get them involved."
Lauer responded by wringing his hands over the negative tone of politics: "But when it comes to politics, don't you think that one of the big problems with getting kids enthusiastic is all the negativity?...when they hear nothing but criticism of people, why do they want to embrace that system?"
O'Reilly shot down that theory: "That's way too pin-headed. It's boring. That's why they don't like it. Kids don't like politics because it's boring....if these guys would make it a little bit more exciting...more people would watch."
Here is a portion of the August 30 interview:
LAUER: This is supposed to be Mitt Romney's big coming out party. And the Tampa Bay Times had an interesting take on this, they said that there seems to be more enthusiasm, here at this convention, for some of the younger faces. They wrote this, "Talk to delegates and they're more likely to gush about Chris Christie or Marco Rubio, then their nominee. Ask them to explain Romney's agenda and ideology and they point enthusiastically to running mate Paul Ryan." So, is this Mitt Romney's convention or is this a new face of the party?
O'REILLY: No, I think most people who do this kind of a thing, travel on political ventures, are conservative people, or liberal people, as you'll see next week in Charlotte. They're not the mainstream voter, alright? They're very committed and they're very ideological. So Romney's more of a moderate Republican, Ryan's much more conservative. So, of course the conservatives are going to go for the conservatives. It's not a big – any revelation or anything like that.
LAUER: But when you talk about the conservatives and we talk about the gender gap and how important women are, and I talked to Governor Bush about this a few seconds ago, do you think this convention is reaching out to the people who are going to decide this election, independents, moderates and women?
O'REILLY: Yeah, it does because what Ryan said last night, what Romney's going to say tonight, gets on the internet and the internet dominates now. So they get their applause lines, they get at least some kind of visibility to people who aren't paying that close of attention. What was it? 20 million people watched some part of the convention so far year. I mean there's 320 million people in the country. So, I mean, the political candidates have to get their word out. And this is the only way to really do it.
LAUER: What do you make of Chris Christie? He gave a speech here the other night that got a lot attention. Some mixed reviews, some people thought he talked more about himself and what was happening in New Jersey and not enough about Mitt Romney. What do you think of Chris Christie?
O'REILLY: Well, [Dick] Morris last night on The Factor, on my program, said that this was a very bad speech and then today I saw the word "narcissistic" attached to Christie. I didn't think it was that bad. I think Christie was basically saying "Look, this is what I've done in my state, smaller government, challenging the vested interests, bringing down a budget. And that's what Romney's gonna do." Maybe he could of made the linkage a little bit more, maybe he should have worn a Romney t-shirt, okay? "I Like Mitt," maybe. But I didn't think it was that bad.
LAUER: When you look at what's gone on here over the last couple of days and what will go on here tonight, are conventions necessary anymore?
O'REILLY: Two days, not four. I mean, it's – this is like one of those marathon dances they had in the 20s, where they never stopped dancing until they collapsed. That's what it's like. I mean, how much bloviating can you take? Two days, one night for the vice president, one night for the presidential nominee. And it's going to be worse in Charlotte. What are they going to talk about there next week? What?