Trying to play up the idea of chaos in the Republican 2012 field, on Thursday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd argued Sarah Palin's bus tour making a stop in New Hampshire on Thursday was "a little bit of a slap in Mitt Romney's face" on the day he was planning to announce his candidacy.
Co-host Meredith Vieira had asked Todd about Romney's upcoming announcement and claimed the former Massachusetts governor would have to "steal back the spotlight" from Palin. Todd declared that Palin was "not even giving him [Romney] one news cycle to make his case."
Todd continued to portray Palin as an antagonist to the rest of the GOP: "You know she doesn't coordinate anything, as we found out, within the Republican Party – it looks like she is doing everything she can to almost undermine Romney, this front-runner." Todd further observed that Palin "has left the impression that this field is not acceptable yet....sending the message Mitt Romney, the front-runner, isn't doing it."
On Wednesday's Today, fill-in co-host Ann Curry also depicted Palin as an enemy of the Republican Party, claiming the former Alaska governor was "angering some Republicans as well, about this tour, by not notifying them ahead of time" and "not playing well" with the GOP.
Here is a transcript of Vieira's June 2 exchange with Todd:
VIEIRA: Move on to presidential politics. This morning, or this afternoon, Mitt Romney expected to announce that he is running for president in the state of New Hampshire. Later on, Sarah Palin's tour bus is entering the state for a clam bake, Rudy Giuliani is holding a GOP fund-raiser there tonight. How does Mitt Romney gain control of the story again and steal back the spotlight or can he not do that until the Republican field settles in a little bit?
TODD: Look, he's going to have a hard time grabbing the spotlight today. It's not his fault. Whether she intended to or not, it's a little bit of a slap in Mitt Romney's face on the day he's trying to lay out the case. This is the front-runner, he may be a fragile front-runner, but he is the front-runner. And on this day, where he is, she's not even giving him one news cycle to make his case, his announcement case. And his announcement speech is going to be making basically two cases: One, that President Obama has failed America and, two, because of his business acumen he's the one that can turn the economy around. And the Romney folks feel as if all of this horrible economic data that's come out this week actually reinforces this message that he's hoping carries him over.
Look, he's got a lot of hurdles to get through inside the Republican Party. But watching what Palin's doing today – and, again, she may not have intended this. You know she doesn't coordinate anything, as we found out, within the Republican Party – it looks like she is doing everything she can to almost undermine Romney, this front-runner. And look, everything she's done this week, Meredith, has left the impression that this field is not acceptable yet. That she wants more candidates, that other members of the party want more candidates. Well, what does that say? That's sending the message Mitt Romney, the front-runner, isn't doing it.
VIEIRA: Alright, Chuck Todd, thank you very much.
TODD: You got it.