NBC Frets GOP Convention Will Be Filled With ‘Inflammatory Rhetoric’

With NBC’s Today live in Cleveland Monday morning to cover the Republican National Convention, co-host Matt Lauer used the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana over the weekend to denounce “inflammatory rhetoric” from Donald Trump: “...the President spoke out and basically said, ‘Look, we’ve got to turn down the inflammatory rhetoric’....you have Donald Trump calling the President ‘clueless’ and saying the nation is a ‘divided crime scene.’ Are we going to hear more of that in the convention hall behind us?”

Political analyst Nicolle Wallace declared: “Absolutely....We’ve got a jittery nation and a jittery party. I don't think Trump will go very far to soothing the jittery nation, but I do think he has a chance of coming out of here bringing together that jittery party.”

Moments earlier, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd framed the Republican gathering in a dour light:

I mean, look, this is a jittery nation, jittery party. So Trump has two things – two opportunities....this is four days to reassure the country that he can be this guy....The other thing he’s got to do is reassure Republicans that he can win. I can’t tell you how many professional Republicans that are already in town that are depressed and think it's already over. He’s got some work to do to just to make them come out of this going, ‘Oh, the party can win.’”

Turning to Trump’s selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, co-host Savannah Guthrie observed: “On substance, it seems to be a choice that Republicans are happy with. In terms of process and the rollout, the reports that Trump was vacillating until the end, and then the kind of bizarre speech and rollout on Saturday, what do you make of it?”

Todd ranted over how badly he thought the announcement went: “It’s just – we're going to say this a lot – missed opportunity....how did they blow this? This is not a hard thing to blow, and they’ve totally blown it. I'm still just stunned that...they’ve yet to campaign together. This is crazy.”

After Wallace predicted the convention “is going help Trump,” Todd immediately threw a wet blanket on the idea: “I just think it's impossible to get a bump out of conventions anymore when you have them back to back. Because there's no time – even if it's a great convention for him, Democrats immediately start theirs. So I think it mutes it. I kind of think there's no movement after this.”

He concluded: “...if the VP rollout is any hint of how this is going to go, then Republican jitters may be worse.” Lauer chided him: “Let's not prejudge. Okay?”

Tell the Truth 2016

Here is a full transcript of the July 18 segment:

7:14 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's bring in two people we’ll be talking to a lot over these next few days. We’ve got Chuck Todd on my right, Nicolle Wallace on the left, which is not actually a sign of anything at all. Chuck, let me start with you, let's just set the table for this convention. There are a few big moments in a presidential campaign, the convention is one. Do you have high hopes?

CHUCK TODD: I’m interested to see. I mean, look, this is a jittery nation, jittery party. So Trump has two things – two opportunities, and I think two charges. Opportunity is this is four days to reassure the country that he can be this guy. All this uncertainty that’s out there, you’re unsettled, you feel insecure, this is his opportunity to do that. The other thing he’s got to do is reassure Republicans that he can win. I can’t tell you how many professional Republicans that are already in town that are depressed and think it's already over. He’s got some work to do to just to make them come out of this going, “Oh, the party can win.”

MATT LAUER: Let’s talk about the kinds of things we’re going to hear from the podium over the next four days. In the wake of the shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas, the President spoke out and basically said, “Look, we’ve got to turn down the inflammatory rhetoric.” Now, in the same time period, you have Donald Trump calling the President “clueless” and saying the nation is a “divided crime scene.” Are we going to hear more of that in the convention hall behind us?

NICOLLE WALLACE: Absolutely, and I think – I agree with the two missions. We’ve got a jittery nation and a jittery party. I don't think Trump will go very far to soothing the jittery nation, but I do think he has a chance of coming out of here bringing together that jittery party. The decision of Pence really does send a signal that he was acutely aware of the need to signal that he is a Republican. Jeb Bush did an interview last week where he said, “The conservative movement is dead.” Donald Trump is trying to breathe life in it and reassure the people gathered in Cleveland this week.

GUTHRIE: You mentioned Governor Pence. On substance, it seems to be a choice that Republicans are happy with. In terms of process and the rollout, the reports that Trump was vacillating until the end, and then the kind of bizarre speech and rollout on Saturday, what do you make of it?

TODD: It’s just – we're going to say this a lot – missed opportunity. I mean, it's the nicest way to put it. It’s a total – how did they blow this? This is not a hard thing to blow, and they’ve totally blown it. I'm still just stunned that they’re not campaigned together – they’ve yet to campaign together. This is crazy. It’s –

LAUER: Do you want to defend them a little?

WALLACE: Well, I watched the – the interview last night was sort of Mad Men-era, you know, speaking over your wife. It was uncomfortable to watch in sort of a modern age. And the dynamic between them is lacking because there is no dynamic between them yet. They barely know each other. And I – you know, I was asked to give a grade last night, we were talking this through about this morning. You’ve got to give it a “T” for Trump-like. And I guess this is how Trump rolls.

TODD: Is that a grade? Do they have that?

WALLACE: It's chaos. It's mayhem. But for some reason –  

TODD: It’s a “T,” it’s a Trump.

WALLACE: Listen, we disagree, but I think this convention is going help Trump. I think he'll come out of this ahead or even in the polls.

LAUER: So he’ll have a boost in the polls. You don’t think so?

TODD: I just think it's impossible to get a bump out of conventions anymore when you have them back to back. Because there's no time – even if it's a great convention for him, Democrats immediately start theirs. So I think it mutes it. I kind of think there's no movement after this.

GUTHRIE: You wouldn't give it a “T” for Trump?

TODD: I'll give it a “T” for Trump but – but if the VP rollout is any hint of how this is going to go, then Republican jitters may be worse.

LAUER: Let's not prejudge. Okay?  

TODD: Yeah, we'll watch.

WALLACE: Thank you, Matt.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Nicolle, thank you. We’re going to have a lot more from here in Cleveland just ahead. By the way, you can catch live coverage of the convention tonight, 10:00 Easter, 7 Pacific, right here on NBC.

Tell the Truth 2016 NB Daily Convention Watch Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential 2016 Republican Convention Conservatives & Republicans NBC Today Video Matt Lauer Chuck Todd Savannah Guthrie Nicolle Wallace

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