NBC Excited by Michelle Obama’s Get Out the Vote Push for Democrats

On Thursday, before conducting an exclusive live interview with former First Lady Michelle Obama, Today show host Savannah Guthrie enthusiastically reported on Mrs. Obama’s “work inspiring others” being “far from over” as she launched a get out the vote effort to help Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.  

After touting Obama as “a champion for the American people” during her time in the White House, Guthrie gushed that the former First Lady was “still having viral moments outside of it.” As examples, the anchor highlighted Mrs. Obama “officiating a wedding in Chicago” as well as her and the former president “taking on the title of producers, signing a deal with Netflix.”

 

 

Turning back to politics, Guthrie proclaimed: “But now, the woman who inspired voters...in 2016, is looking to do it again in 2018....Launching a voting initiative with help from famous friends, including Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda.” A soundbite ran of Obama telling supporters: “Believe me, I am frustrated, too. I am sick of all the chaos and the nastiness of our politics.”

Not done with the cheerleading, Guthrie declared: “That's just the beginning of the former First Lady’s next chapter. Shortly after the polls close next month, she will hit the road to promote her book, Becoming....Her book tour already getting rock star treatment, selling out stadiums across the country.”

Sitting down with Obama in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, Guthrie sympathized with the former First Lady’s admission that politics have been “depressing” lately:

You’ve talked about getting out the vote. That’s another of your initiatives. You were really candid recently, saying, “You know, it’s kind of depressing out there, politics.” You could have easily checked out and go lived a nice life. Why did you decide to engage? And when you say that politics is depressing right now, what do you mean by that?

Obama replied:

Well, I chose to engage because there’s no choice....And the thing...that I have to remind myself sometimes when I get down, is that change is hard and it takes time. And we are planting seeds every day. And the alternative is to do nothing, to say nothing, to sit back and watch things go unchanged....But with every statement that we make, with every act, with every dollar we spend on this issue, we’re moving the needle.

Wrapping up the softball interview, Guthrie predictably pressed Obama on running for office: “Before I let you go, we only have a few seconds left, you’ve been asked one billion times, I think a few by me, would you ever run for elected office? And you always say, “No way”....But have you ever been asked, why not?”

Obama insisted: “Yes, and I’ve said it time and time again....I have never wanted to be a politician. You know, and it’s one of those things that nothing has changed in me to make me want to run for elected office.”

Earlier in the exchange, Guthrie wondered if the former First Lady’s motto, “When they go low, we go high,” still applied in the Trump era or whether calls from Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton for less civility were a better approach.

Here is a full transcript of Guthrie’s October 11 taped report about Mrs. Obama’s GOTV effort:

7:42 AM ET

HODA KOTB: And we are back on this International Day of the Girl. And we are going to be talking to the former First Lady Michelle Obama about her powerful campaign, yeah.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We’re just getting started this morning. Of course, Mrs. Obama paved her own path when she was at the White House and her work inspiring others is far from over.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Michelle Obama’s Next Move; Former First Lady’s Mission After the White House]

GUTHRIE: As the first African-American First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was a barrier breaker from day one, and spent her days as First Lady promoting her passions with programs that got kids moving and brought healthier lunches to school. As well as raising awareness of the need for girls education around the world.

MICHELLE OBAMA [JANUARY 6, 2017]: Being your First Lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.

GUTHRIE: While she was a champion for the American people, she was still, first and foremost, mom-in-chief. The Obamas choosing to break with presidential tradition and stay behind in Washington after leaving office so their youngest daughter Sasha could finish high school. This year, she opened up about life mostly out of the political spotlight.

OBAMA [THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW, FEBRUARY 1]: Now I have a door and a doorbell and people actually trip out when I come to my door and I open it.

GUTHRIE: But the former First Lady, who embraced more than just politics inside the White House, is still having viral moments outside of it, from officiating a wedding in Chicago to exchanging a cough drop with friend and former President George W. Bush recently at Senator John McCain’s funeral. The Obamas also taking on the title of producers, signing a deal with Netflix.

But now, the woman who inspired voters with this message in 2016...

OBAMA [JULY 25, 2016]: When they go low, we go high.

GUTHRIE: ...is looking to do it again in 2018.

OBAMA [SEPTEMBER 23]: Believe me, I am frustrated, too. I am sick of all the chaos and the nastiness of our politics.

GUTHRIE: Launching a voting initiative with help from famous friends, including Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda. That's just the beginning of the former First Lady’s next chapter. Shortly after the polls close next month, she will hit the road to promote her book, Becoming.

OBAMA: It is candid, it’s honest. It is totally and utterly me.

GUTHRIE: Her book tour already getting rock star treatment, selling out stadiums across the country.

CRAIG MELVIN: Wow.

KOTB: Pretty cool.

GUTHRIE: Well, she’s been busy.

KOTB: Yeah.

GUTHRIE: But she made time for us this morning. Look who is in our studio. [Applause] Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Good morning, Mrs. Obama, we are excited to sit down for an exclusive conversation with her. She’s got a big announcement, she’s gonna tell us all about it. And we have tons of girls out on the plaza, a great concert ahead. This is a special morning. Thanks for being with us.

Here are excerpts from the live interview with Obama minutes later:

8:20 AM ET

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And I was thinking about women’s voices in the times that we’re in right now. In some ways, they’ve never been stronger or clearer. We’ve obviously had this #MeToo movement. So much has happened in one year. I wonder what your thoughts are on it. Are you surprised at how much has changed?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I’m surprised at how much has changed but how much has not changed. And I think that’s where the fire is coming from. Enough is enough. The world is a sadly dangerous place for women and girls, and we see that again and again. And I think young women are tired of it. They’re tired of being undervalued, they’re tired of being disregarded. They’re tired of their voices not being invested in and heard. And it’s not just around the world, that’s happening right here in this country. And it’s – and if we’re going to change that, we have to give them the tools and the skills, through education, to be able to lift those voices up.

HODA KOTB: There are some who believe that the #MeToo movement went to a point and some say there’s a backlash that’s happening, that now men are saying, “Well, wait a minute, you know, what about us?” Just your thoughts on that?

OBAMA: Well, that’s what happens with change, you know? Change is not a direct smooth path, there’s gonna be bumps and resistance. I mean, there has been a status quo in terms of the way women have been treated, what their expectations have been in this society, and that is changing. And there’s going to be a little upheaval, there’s gonna be a little discomfort. But I think it’s up to the women out there to say, “Sorry. Sorry that you feel uncomfortable, but I’m now paving the way for the next generation.”

And we as mothers – [Cheers and applause] – we have to think about the path that we want to pave for our girls. And if we don’t start setting the tone now, they’re gonna walk into a world where they’re still dealing with those issues in the workplace and at home and in schools. And I don’t want that for your girls. And they’re young, your girls are likely to be the beneficiaries of this work, this voice, these opportunities.

GUTHRIE: You’ve talked about getting out the vote. That’s another of your initiatives. You were really candid recently, saying, “You know, it’s kind of depressing out there, politics.” You could have easily checked out and go lived a nice life. Why did you decide to engage? And when you say that politics is depressing right now, what do you mean by that?

OBAMA: Well, I chose to engage because there’s no choice. I talked to some of the girls yesterday about – they asked me a question about, how do you stay resilient in the face of difficulty? And the thing I wanted to remind them, that I have to remind myself sometimes when I get down, is that change is hard and it takes time. And we are planting seeds every day. And the alternative is to do nothing, to say nothing, to sit back and watch things go unchanged.

But with every statement that we make, with every act, with every dollar we spend on this issue, we’re moving the needle. And that’s what we have to do. We have to move it slowly but surely and I certainly am going to play my part. I made a commitment to girls around the world when I was in the White House that I would not had walk away from this issue when I left, and this is my fulfillment of that promise, through the Obama Foundation.

GUTHRIE: Before I let you go, we only have a few seconds left, you’ve been asked one billion times, I think a few by me, would you ever run for elected office? And you always say, “No way.”

OBAMA: Absolutely not.

GUTHRIE: But have you ever been asked, why not?  

OBAMA: Yes, and I’ve said it time and time again. You know, this is the one thing you learn. As a woman you understand where your voice works best, where you want to operate. What space you want to be in. I have never wanted to be a politician. You know, and it’s one of those things that nothing has changed in me to make me want to run for elected office. I want to serve. I want to do work. I want to be out there. But there are so many ways to make an impact. Politics is just not my thing. It’s as simple as that.

And that’s what I want these girls – find your passion. Don’t let somebody tell you what they think you should do, who they think you should be. It’s up to you to determine what your message and how you want to use your voice. And that’s – you know, this is how I want to work in the world. I want to work on positive issues with girls around the world.

GUTHRIE: It’s great to have this conversation. Thank you for coming, Mrs. Obama.

(...)


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