Talking to Bloomberg Politics managing editor Mark Halperin on Monday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered if the shooting outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado would hurt the GOP politically: “...does the attack take the issue of Planned Parenthood off the table for Republican candidates who don't want to be seen or don't want to risk taking advantage of a tragedy or being on the wrong side of a tragedy?”
Halperin agreed with Lauer’s assessment: “It certainly makes it harder to talk about it in political terms.” He added: “But look, Planned Parenthood, gun violence, ISIS, there's so many big serious issues in a presidential campaign that's been like a circus. Now we have to see how candidates finesse talking about serious things, even in the context of this race.”
Despite Lauer warning Republicans to be careful with their rhetoric, he acknowledged: “There is no proof that there was a motive on the part of the gunman that was related to any of the rhetoric we're hearing on the campaign trail...”
In a prior report, correspondent Kristen Welker declared:
While all of the Democratic candidates responded to the shooting the night it happened, condemning the violence and making it clear they stand by Planned Parenthood, many of the Republican candidates waited until Sunday to weigh in. For the GOP it's more complicated because their base is largely pro-life, so they chose their words carefully.
She noted that GOP 2016 candidates were “Condemning attack but stopping short of agreeing with critics, including the executives at Planned Parenthood, who say that fiery anti-abortion rhetoric contributed to the shooting.”
The Sunday talk shows on all three broadcast networks used the shooting to hammer the Republican contenders.
Here is a full transcript of Welker’s November 30 segment:
7:06 AM ET
MATT LAUER: That shooting is pushing the issues of Planned Parenthood and gun violence back into the forefront of the presidential race, as Republican front-runner Donald Trump faces fresh scrutiny over some of the controversial things he's been saying on the campaign trail. NBC's Kristen Welker has more on that. Hi, Kristen, good morning.
KRISTEN WELKER: Matt, good morning to you. That's right. The 2016 race is intensifying just as this debate surrounding Planned Parenthood is coming into sharper focus. While all of the Democratic candidates responded to the shooting the night it happened, condemning the violence and making it clear they stand by Planned Parenthood, many of the Republican candidates waited until Sunday to weigh in. For the GOP it's more complicated because their base is largely pro-life, so they chose their words carefully.
GOP candidates finally responding to the shootings of the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs.
CARLY FIORINA [FOX NEWS SUNDAY]: It's obviously a tragedy. Nothing justifies this.
WELKER: Condemning attack but stopping short of agreeing with critics, including the executives at Planned Parenthood, who say that fiery anti-abortion rhetoric contributed to the shooting.
FIORINA: This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message.
DONALD TRUMP [MEET THE PRESS]: There is a tremendous group of people that think it's terrible, all of the videos that they’ve seen, with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you're selling parts to a car.
WELKER: Meanwhile, Donald Trump is also not backing down after repeatedly insisting he saw Muslims celebrating in New Jersey after 9/11.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump on the Trail & Under Fire; Sticks to 9/11 Story as Rivals Go on the Attack]
CHUCK TODD: This didn't happen in New Jersey. There were plenty of reports, and you're feeding a stereotype–
TRUMP: Chuck, it did happen in New Jersey. I have hundreds of people that agree with me and by the way, you–
TODD: But they want to agree with you, that doesn’t make it true.
WELKER: Trump also under fire for seeming to mock New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition, after Kovaleski challenged Trump's claims about 9/11. Over the weekend Trump again said he wasn't mocking the reporter.
TRUMP: He's using what he's got to such a horrible degree. I think it's disgraceful, and I think The New York Times frankly should give me an apology
WELKER: The New York Times isn't apologizing, and Trump's rivals aren't buying it.
GOV. JOHN KASICH [R-OH]: He's insulted other reporters, this one he absolutely mocked, who was disabled.
WELKER: And some candidates are showing new strength. Ted Cruz is now just two points behind Trump in Iowa and Chris Christie picked up a key endorsement from the influential New Hampshire Union Leader.
Meanwhile, Ben Carson visited Jordan this weekend, aiming to boost his foreign policy credentials after a series of blunders, including referring to some Syrian refugees as rabid dogs. On Sunday Carson said the refugees he met weren't offended.
BEN CARSON [MEET THE PRESS]: They understand here that we're talking about the jihadists, the Islamic terrorists.
WELKER: Meanwhile today, the Trump campaign is cancelling what was initially dubbed a news conference to announce the endorsement by about 100 black religious leaders after many announced they have no immediate plans to back him. Trump will still meet privately with those leaders and then head back out on the campaign trail, as will almost all of the other candidates. Matt, Savannah?
LAUER: Alright, Kristen Welker. Kristen, thank you very much.