Touting the results of an NBC News/Esquire magazine survey on Tuesday's NBC Today of the supposed political center in America, fill-in co-host Tamron Hall proclaimed: "Interesting note, we asked the middle who they trust, guys, the most. And the answer is President Obama, Oprah Winfrey. The most trusted people according to those who fall in the middle." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In response to the finding, co-host Matt Lauer turned to his fellow co-hosts and remarked: "Sorry about that, guys." Savannah Guthrie replied: "Oh, what, you thought we were in the running?" That prompted laughter from the group of journalists. Weatherman Al Roker added: "Yeah, I didn't think that was coming up." He then joked that Obama could run for a third term with Oprah as his running mate: "There's the ticket for 2016."
In an earlier segment, Lauer and political director Chuck Todd touted some of the liberal leanings of that "middle":
LAUER: On the issue of government legislating how people behave in their personal lives, things like guns, abortion, marriage, marijuana, look what they say.
TODD: Large majorities of them [54%] are pro-marijuana, large majorities pro-gay marriage. Basically they're libertarian on these issues. They're like, "Get out of my life. Don't tell me what to do."
LAUER: Alright, take a look. How should the U.S. handle itself in terms of foreign affairs?
TODD: And this is where you see the war weariness. This is an isolationist streak in the center. These are folks [76%] that are basically saying we don't need to be patrolling the world. We don't need to be – they're for defense cuts. Again, this is a majority of the country and a majority of the middle.
LAUER: And a majority of the people in that middle [59%] want taxes raised on people who earn more than a million dollars a year.
Todd did briefly take note of some of the right-of-center views expressed in the survey:
...let me tell you some places where they're also conservative. They're anti-regulation. They don't want government getting in the way of oil drilling and things like that. And so while their economic populists on this stuff, at the same time, they're also against Affirmative Action. Like get that – again, this is a merit – the center, they're a meritocracy. They're simply for fairness, whether it's on marriage or college admissions.
Here is a full transcript of Hall's October 15 segment:
MATT LAUER: Let us swing over to the Orange Room right now. Tamron is covering for Carson over there and she's tracking how people are responding to that NBC News/Esquire New American Center survey. Tamron, good morning.
TAMRON HALL: Good morning, guys. People are certainly responding to this quiz in interesting ways. For example, Brent Dickson says, "Yes Today show, most Americans are actually Libertarians. Thanks for presenting some stats that reflect #WhereIStand," which is the hashtag by the way.
I got a few others. Chris Gepetti, guys, says, "I'm a Dem through and through, but I know that liberal policies are not always right. It is important to be open-minded." Got another one from LegendaryShia, who says, "I'm right in the middle and it's exactly as you said, I just want a fair country for everyone."
Again, the hashtag is WhereIStand. And this is the spectrum, by the way. From Bleeding Hearts, The Gospel Left to Talk Radio Heads, The Righteous Right. And of course, right in the middle, something called the MBA Middle. So if you take the quiz, you'll see where you fall in this spectrum.
Interesting note, we asked the middle who they trust, guys, the most. And the answer is President Obama, Oprah Winfrey. The most trusted people according to those who fall in the middle.
LAUER: Sorry about that, guys.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Oh, what, you thought we were in the running?
AL ROKER: Yeah, yeah, I didn't think that was coming up.
LAUER: Didn't work, didn't workout.
GUTHRIE: Thanks, Tamron.
LAUER: Tamron, thank you.
ROKER: There's the ticket for 2016.
NATALIE MORALES: Could be.