On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu (who faces reelection on Tuesday) told NBC News political director and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd that President Barack Obama is unpopular in the South because the region “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans” and thus “[i]t’s been a difficult time for the President to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Landrieu's opponent Bill Cassidy (and Fox News host Megyn Kelly) treated this remark as a voter-insulting gaffe: "Vote for me, despite your racism..."
Prior to Landrieu’s remarks, Todd emphasized that the one thing he learned while on a bus tour meeting voters was “that the most omnipresent person on the campaign trail is somebody you don't see on the campaign trail” in President Barack Obama. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Todd added that “while President Obama's unpopular overall in many of these battlegrounds, it's more acute here in the South and it was something that Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu told me has more to do than his policies.”
Following the clip of Landrieu uttering a potentially devastating gaffe that directly alienated the voters of the Bayou State, Todd didn’t directly refute her statement, but he did observe that “what's interesting there is other Democratic folks that I talked to in the South, they use different language.”
Turning again to looking at the upcoming midterms as a whole, Todd declared that “no matter what the result” on Tuesday night, “the Democratic Party is going to be leaving Barack Obama behind and is about to become the Party of the Clintons again.”
First elected to the Senate in 1996, Landrieu faces a tough reelection fight against Republicans Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness on November 4 and must capture 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff on December 6 with one of her opponents. According to the latest Real Clear Politics polling averages, Landrieu only captures 38 percent of the vote in the open primary (with Cassidy at 33.8 percent) and trails Cassidy in a hypothetical runoff by 4.5 percentage points.
With the midterm elections taking place on Tuesday, it will remain to be seen whether NBC will continue to cover this latest Democratic gaffe and if fellow networks ABC and CBS will devote any coverage to Landrieu’s statements either.
As the Media Research Center’s Geoffrey Dickens found, the chances are unfortunately slim as the networks have virtually ignored gaffes made by Democratic candidates (including news in August that Landrieu illegally charged taxpayers for campaign flights).
The transcript of the segment that aired on NBC Nightly News on October 30 can be found below.
NBC Nightly News
October 30, 2014
7:10 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: NBC News; Decision 2014]
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We are now down to the wire, five days left for candidates to win your love, or at least your vote in the midterm election. Chuck Todd, our political director, moderator of Meet the Press, has been on the road covering the races that could shift the balance of power. Seven battleground stays in the all. 3,153 miles traveled and tonight, Chuck brings the trip to an end in the State of Louisiana, where a sitting Democratic senator is fighting for her political life. Hey, Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. You know, one thing I learned about this trip is that the most omnipresent person on the campaign trail is somebody you don't see on the campaign trail, and that's the President of the United States, Barack Obama. He clearly is the issue that Republicans hope will get them control of the U.S. Senate, but while President Obama's unpopular overall in many of these battlegrounds, it's more acute here in the South and it was something that Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu told me has more to do than his policies. Take a listen.
LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: To be very, very honest with you, the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It's been a difficult time for the President to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.
TODD: You know, what's interesting there is other Democratic folks that I talked to in the South, they use different language. Mark Pryor told me the President just doesn't understand rural America, but here's one larger bottom line about come Tuesday night, no matter the result, Brian, is that the Democratic Party is going to be leaving Barack Obama behind and is about to become the Party of the Clintons again, because that, who all of these Democrats are running toward this election year, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
WILLIAMS: Alright, Chuck Todd in Louisiana, we will see the latest Sunday on Meet the Press. We will see you up here election night next Tuesday. Chuck, thanks.