On Tuesday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd eagerly forecasted Republican defeat in the Virginia governor's race and that all the blame for the loss would be ascribed to conservatives: "There are a lot of anti-Tea Party Republicans who think the Tea Party has done damage to the Republican Party who are going....'You've got a Tea Party that took over the Virginia Republican Party and look at how that's going.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Touting the possibility that the Virginia GOP "could be swept this year" in all statewide offices, Todd concluded: "I think there's going to be a lot of 'I told you sos' on where the internal split of the Republican Party is. Virginia could be Tea Party losses. New Jersey, moderate Republicans winning."
Co-host Savannah Guthrie set up Todd's declaration: "Let's talk quickly about Virginia, because this potentially tells a story larger than within the Commonwealth's borders. You have a Tea Party Republican candidate who may lose to a Democrat in what had traditionally been a Republican stronghold."
On Monday's Nightly News, Todd framed the Virginia race as "a test of Hillary Clinton's clout," noting: "The Clintons together have made ten appearances on behalf of McAuliffe, using Virginia as a testing ground for staffers, tactics, and message."
He highlighted also highlighted how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had "distanced himself from the Tea Party" in his bid for re-election.
Here is a full transcript of the November 5 Today segment:
GUTHRIE: It is election day and two key battles are getting a lot of attention this morning, the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia. Chuck Todd is NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent. Good morning to you.
CHUCK TODD: Good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2013; What Do NJ & VA Governor Races Mean for 2016?]
GUTHRIE: These are races that have significance beyond these state's boarders. Let's start in New Jersey. Is Chris Christie really trying to rack up a huge margin to show he's got crossover appeal?
TODD: He's absolutely doing this. I mean they're barely hiding the fact that they hope a big re-election victory for him. You know, no Republican's gotten over 50% in the state of Virginia [New Jersey] since the 80s. He might get over 60. George W. Bush in 1998 ran up a big re-election score in Texas, did well among Hispanics, African Americans. And the message to national donors that year was, "Hey, look at me, I can win, I'm electable." That's what Chris Christie and the message he wants to send in New Jersey. I was with him last night, he definitely has a national message.
GUTHRIE: So he may say, "I am electable in a general election," but he's got to get through that Republican primary. Is he somebody that can prevail in a primary where sometimes the further the right the candidate is, that's who the voters seem to like?
TODD: You know, that's gonna be the difficult part. He's been talking up things like – he says the word, "I'm a conservative, I'm a conservative. But I'm willing to work across the aisle." He's got a general election message down, that's clear. I don't know how he gets through the primary. His supporters will say, "Hey, he's a pro-life governor. He's – you know, he's got a lot of conservative positions." We'll see. Iowa is a different place than New Jersey.
GUTHRIE: Very quickly, do you think Chris Christie is the potential opponent that Hillary Clinton fears the most?
TODD: Democrats fear Christie. And in fact, some of them are regretting the fact that they did not spend this governor's race starting to take a piece out of him. There has been a lot of the hand-wringing now, realizing, "Whoa, what have we done? We have allowed him to use his friendship with President Obama to build himself up and become this formidable national figure."
GUTHRIE: Let's talk quickly about Virginia, because this potentially tells a story larger than within the Commonwealth's borders. You have a Tea Party Republican candidate who may lose to a Democrat in what had traditionally been a Republican stronghold.
TODD: You know, there are a lot of anti-Tea Party Republicans who think the Tea Party has done damage to the Republican Party who are going, "We've got Chris Christie who's appealing to moderates, and look at how that's going in New Jersey. You've got a Tea Party that took over the Virginia Republican Party and look at how that's going." Virginians – Virginia Republicans could get all three statewide races – they could be swept this year. That's the first time that would have happened since the 80s. So, I think there's going to be a lot of "I told you sos" on where the internal split of the Republican Party is. Virginia could be Tea Party losses. New Jersey, moderate Republicans winning.
GUTHRIE: Well, we know you'll be watching. If it's Tuesday, it's Chuck Todd. Thank you very much.
TODD: You got it.