On two separate occasions during the 1 p.m. EDT hour of MSNBC News Live on Wednesday, host Brian Williams continued to wonder, as he did repeatedly the night before, if there will ever be a female President: "If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when?" He recited the line during discussions with Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd. Williams first raised the topic during the second segment of the hour. After asking Rep. Lowey about her thoughts on Senator Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention speech, Williams wondered:
Congresswoman, we have talked about the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. As I said to Tom Brokaw on the air last night, the people who came to gladly vote for Senator Clinton, came with hammers in their hands to break that glass ceiling. They didn't cast their vote lightly. And here's the conundrum. If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when? Because, after all, it's been a generation since Geraldine Ferraro, another member of the New York congressional delegation, was on a national ticket.
After Lowey gave the typical response that Hillary Clinton ran an historic campaign and women cannot afford to elect Senator John McCain President, Williams rephrased the question and made it more personal:
I'll put it differently, Congresswoman. When Nita Lowey's grandchildren look up and ask when there's going to be a woman President of the United States, when you look at the bench of this party at this convention, the Republican Party next week in St. Paul do you tell them?
Just before 1:30 p.m. EDT, Williams again brought up the subject of a female president during his discussion with NBC political director Chuck Todd. After Todd talked about the difference between Hillary’s supporters throughout the Democratic primary deciding to support Obama and the Clintons' "entourage" of people who have gotten VIP treatment at Democratic Party functions for the past 16 years supporting Obama, Williams added: "[B]ut the other issue, especially for all those of us with daughters, party aside, you, last night when you raised the fact that it's been an American generation since Geraldine Ferraro and then you look at if not now, when, that becomes such an interesting question. As we look at the bench on both the Republican side and the Democratic side."
As the MRC Vice President for Research and Publications Brent Baker noted, Brian Williams also brought up this same question of "if not Hillary, who, and if not now, when" during Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News and twice more in prime time Tuesday night.
The relevant transcripts follow:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, host: We have another member of Congress on deck who’s been waiting patiently to talk to us. Representative Nita Lowey in the state New York. An early and strong supporter of Senator Clinton, who, like a lot of other Democrats who came out for Senator Clinton, is getting in line behind this ticket. And congresswomen, first of all, thank you for being with us from our train station location and we’ll hope we don't have an engine coming through, as it has all week long, at about this hour. First of all, tell me about what you thought of Senator Clinton’s speech last night.
REP. NITA LOWEY: Brian, it's a pleasure for me to be with you. And she gave an extraordinary speech. If I would use the usual lingo, I would say she hit it out of the ballpark, and she really delivered. It was a home run. And she made the case for Barack Obama. She made it clear we have to take this country in a new direction. And I know that whether there were delegates enthusiastically applauding or supporting Hillary Clinton or those who already supporting Barack Obama, we are all united after that great speech and ensuring that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States of America.
WILLIAMS: Congresswoman, we have talked about the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. As I said to Tom Brokaw on the air last night, the people who came to gladly vote for Senator Clinton, came with hammers in their hands to break that glass ceiling. They didn't cast their vote lightly. And here's the conundrum. If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when? Because, after all, it's been a generation since Geraldine Ferraro, another member of the New York congressional delegation, was on a national ticket.
LOWEY: Brian, this is a historic celebration of the nomination of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton made it very clear that we cannot afford four more years of Bush/McCain policies. And when you think ahead and when you think about the Bush/McCain plans to denying women equality, to compromise the right to choose, you think about those judges that McCain, if he were elected, would appoint to the Supreme Court, there is no question that Hillary Clinton made the case for women, for men, for all people in this country to support Barack Obama as the next president.
WILLIAMS: I'll put it differently, Congresswoman. When Nita Lowey's grandchildren look up and ask when there's going to be a woman President of the United States, when you look at the bench of this party at this convention, the Republican Party next week in St. Paul, what do you tell them?
LOWEY: Hillary Clinton ran an extraordinary campaign, she has made history. And when her name is put in nomination, and when Barack Obama’s name is put in nomination all the people there and around the country will understand that the United States is moving in the right direction. Those 18 chips in the glass ceiling that Hillary made, there will be a woman as president. But we need to elect Barack Obama now. Hillary Clinton made it clear we must take the country in a new direction. Whether it's education or healthcare or women's rights or housing or war or bringing our troops responsibly home, we cannot afford four more years. We cannot support McCain. And I think everyone who attended last night, no matter who they supported before, understands the persuasive case that Hillary Clinton presented.
WILLIAMS: Congresswoman, thank you very much for being with us. Congresswoman Nita Lowey from New York.
# 1:23 p.m. EDT
WILLIAMS: This is one of those "were you watching" moments from last night. Senator Clinton had taken the stage. Her husband, the president, entered the hall a few minutes before her speech. And he's mouthing over and over again the words "I love you." Bill Clinton, who also it has to be pointed out for context, all of us who are hyper familiar with the public persona of Bill Clinton, is about as camera aware as anyone to ever hold public office. Which all brings us, and I can't wait to hear his reaction to this, to our political director Chuck Todd. Fresh from anchoring an hour of our coverage himself. Chuck, you and I were there for all of that last night. But we now have the perspective of a night's rest. And looking at some of the journalists who have been writing about it. Roger Simon in “Politico” writes, “There's a winner and there's a loser. Barack Obama won. Hillary Clinton lost. And Clinton supporters need to get their heads, if not their hearts, around that.” And listen to this, “there's a point when a demand for respect turns into an aura of entitlement and some have been acting as if it were preordained that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination.” Where do you think this whole matter is this morning as we get ready to hear from President Clinton tonight?
CHUCK TODD: Well, I think we're, we have the Denver bubble, as you and I talked about earlier this week, where we knew that there are a whole bunch of big-time fund-raisers in Clinton world, who, for 16 years, Brian, they got to the front of the line. They got the best reservations in town at whatever convention restaurant there was. They had the best credentials, they could dole them out. And suddenly, it was coming to an end. This was the first time they, for a lot of them, that they’d attended a convention where they weren’t a big deal or they were less of a big deal. And I think that contributed to the atmosphere we saw here. But I think when you saw, when you saw Andrea Mitchell and Savannah Guthrie finding these delegates, the ones that were with Hillary as much for her positions as for her gender, who were sitting there and saying to themselves, I have seen a whole generation of women grow up since the last time there was a woman on the national ticket, and they seem to come to grips with the fact, with what Roger wrote this morning, which is Hillary lost, Obama won. They still love Hillary. They'll end up being for Obama. And I think the supporters of Senator Clinton are there. It's the, it's the, the entourage of the Clintons, to use, I guess, that term, a Hollywood term, is who is still not there yet, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think you so correctly point out the dual issues. Perhaps the party passing of the baton, control of the party from Clinton to Obama, but the other issue, especially for all those of us with daughters, party aside, you, last night when you raised the fact that it's been an American generation, since Geraldine Ferraro and then you look at if not now, when, that becomes such an interesting question. As we look at the bench on both the Republican side and the Democratic side.
TODD: Well, it's, you know, frankly, look, I remember in 1996, you know, right after that convention, you'd hear, there is just no way the year 2000 will come and go without at least one woman on one of the tickets. In 2000, and this was the chatter right after the '96 convention, you know, I think everybody and their brother was predicting that, you know, it would be Dianne Feinstein or it would be a Kay Bailey Hutchinson or a Christie Whitman or Kathleen Brown when people thought she was a shoo-in at the time, back in ’94, to be California governor. And none of that ever happened. And now we are over a generation. We're going to be at 28 years, unless John McCain surprises him and we've got a good, live, TV moment here, Brian. My apologies for that. But we do have this whole generation that is now sitting here going, who's next? Maybe it's the governors, Kathleen Sebelius. Maybe it will end up being a Meg Whitman, who herself isn't ready now, but is going to probably run for governor and wants to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. And we all know, once you're governor of California, everybody thinks you're ready to be president.
WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd from the train station. Chuck, tell your intern to refrain from giving you on-air instructions while we’re on air and maybe the commercial breaks are the best time for that kinda thing.
TODD: It's the only way I can hear these days: megaphones.
WILLIAMS: Train stations turned into an interesting, shall we say, location for live television. Chuck, I'll see you several times today and, of course, next on "Nightly News" later tonight from Denver.