NBC, CBS Reject ‘Divisive’ Immigration Debate, Tout Health Care as Winning Issue for Dems

In an effort to push the issue that Democrats want to talk about in the final days of the midterm campaign, on Wednesday, both NBC’s Today show and CBS This Morning rejected efforts by President Trump to focus on illegal immigration and instead touted health care as the key to Democratic victory on Election Day.

“This is how the President has decided to close out the final stretch of the midterm election campaign, focused on issues that divide Americans, often along cultural lines,” scolded correspondent Kasie Hunt on the Today show. She asked: “But is it a strategy that’s going to work or will it ultimately hurt his cause?”

 

 

After detailing Trump’s call for an end to birthright citizenship as a way to counter illegal immigration, Hunt fretted “the debate dividing voters” and warned: “Less than a week away, the President hoping the divisive issue of immigration will rile up his core supporters and convince them they can’t risk staying home on November 6th.”

The reporter then turned to the message that Democrats wanted to advance before voters went to the polls: “Democrats say the President’s latest comments are meant to distract from issues voters say are more important, like health care.” She teed up a clip of Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ranting against Trump to liberal Late Show host Stephen Colbert:

Well, this is more of the same of what he has been saying. Taking babies out of the arms of their moms, putting them in cages, warning about a caravan that’s over 1,000 miles away, putting troops on the border.

One week earlier, the NBC morning show devoted a full report to the subject of health care, knowing that the Democratic political strategy relied heavily on the issue.

Talking to co-host Savannah Guthrie after her taped report on Wednesday, Hunt noted that Republicans were “concerned that Democratic enthusiasm is absolutely off the charts. And that this rhetoric [from Trump] is just gonna make Democrats more angry and more prepared to go to the polls.”    

Leading off CBS This Morning, co-host Bianna Golodryga proclaimed:

President Trump starts a week-long final push to rally Republican voters in the midterm elections. He’s chosen to make immigration his dominate issue. Democrats are focusing on health care. Nancy Cordes is in Florida, where our CBS News Poll finds health care is voters’ top priority.

Minutes later, fellow co-host John Dickerson emphasized how “President Trump is doing everything possible to shift immigration to the forefront of the debate, focusing on a slow-moving caravan of central American migrants about 1,000 miles from the U.S. border.”

Eager to prevent that, the morning show devoted a full report to boosting Democratic talking points about health care, with co-host Gayle King touting: “Health care is a top issue for voters across the country, including Florida. Now, our Battleground Tracker poll found three out of four Floridians say it’s very important to their vote, just ahead of the economy.”

Reporting from Miami Beach, correspondent Nancy Cordes promoted how “health care has been a huge part of the closing argument for both parties. But especially for Democrats, who have been looking at the polling for months and believe that the party is vulnerable on this issue.”

Amid multiple soundbites of Democratic campaign ads pushing the issue, Cordes observed: “Over the past two months, more than half of all Democratic ads in federal races mentioned health care, highlighting GOP opposition to ObamaCare, as the law’s popularity has bounced back from a low in 2013.”

Wrapping up the segment, Cordes briefly acknowledged: “President Trump is campaigning for Republicans here in Florida today. He’s been trying to change the conversation to immigration, an issue where Republicans think, Gayle, that they have the edge.”

After pushing a story favorable to the Democrats’ campaign agenda, later in the show, King teed up another midterm report on a topic that “Republicans don’t want to be talking about,” controversial comments from GOP Congressman Steve King.  

Here is a full transcript of the October 31 report on NBC’s Today show:

7:02 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: But let’s start with this battle over immigration and the President’s challenge to the Constitution six days to go until the midterm elections. We’ve got complete coverage from the border and we’ll also have the mood of the country. Let’s start with NBC’s Kasie Hunt, she’s in Kansas City, Missouri, this morning. Kasie, good morning.

KASIE HUNT: Savannah, good morning to you. This is how the President has decided to close out the final stretch of the midterm election campaign, focused on issues that divide Americans, often along cultural lines. But is it a strategy that’s going to work or will it ultimately hurt his cause?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump’s Birthright Battle; Both Dems & Republicans Question Constitutionality]

This morning, growing controversy, after President Trump vowed to stop granting automatic citizenship to babies born in the United States, something he claims he could do without Congress. But congressional leaders in his own party say the President couldn’t override the 14th Amendment that promises birthright citizenship by himself.

REP. PAUL RYAN [HOUSE SPEAKER]: Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.

HUNT: Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway defending the President’s proposal.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: There are constitutional scholars who say the 14th Amendment has been misinterpreted. And actually, the Supreme Court has never gave a solid opinion on this.

HUNT: But in a stunning rebuke, Conway’s husband, George, breaking with his wife’s boss, co-writing a Washington Post op-ed with Obama-era U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, writing, “such a move is unconstitutional.” Trump ally Lindsey Graham came to the President’s defense, announcing he’ll introduce legislation in Congress supporting the idea.

On the campaign trail, the debate dividing voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [MISSOURI VOTER]: Well, we have to put a stop to it somehow. I mean, no other president has ever done it.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [MISSOURI VOTER]: I believe that people come over here to the states to fight for their children’s rights and their rights. And all they want to do is get a better life for their family.

HUNT: Less than a week away, the President hoping the divisive issue of immigration will rile up his core supporters and convince them they can’t risk staying home on November 6th.

Donny, what’s your top issue in this election?

DONNY [MISSOURI VOTER]: I think right now that’s the hot button, is immigration. Any country that does not have protection of their borders will fail.

HUNT: Democrats say the President’s latest comments are meant to distract from issues voters say are more important, like health care. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Midterm Madness; Health Care Emerges as Key Issue One Week Out]

REP. NANCY PELOSI [HOUSE MINORITY LEADER]: Well, this is more of the same of what he has been saying. Taking babies out of the arms of their moms, putting them in cages, warning about a caravan that’s over 1,000 miles away, putting troops on the border.

HUNT: And it’s health care that Carrie Norris, who runs a small business in central Iowa, told me she worries about the most.

CARRIE NORRIS [IOWA VOTER]: I personally am struck with health care and the pre-existing condition. I have been a lifelong Republican, very proud one at that. In the last two years, I have since changed my voter registration card to an independent.

HUNT: And that’s because of Donald Trump?

NORRIS: Because of Donald Trump.

GUTHRIE: So, Kasie, what are you hearing from Republicans who are in the key battleground races? Is the President’s strategy working for them or not?

HUNT: Well, Savannah, the President’s strategy is focused on his base. And when we talk to those voters, we certainly hear them reacting to it. But when you talk to the candidates, they’re the ones who know they have to win over independents. They’re concerned that Democratic enthusiasm is absolutely off the charts. And that this rhetoric is just gonna make Democrats more angry and more prepared to go to the polls.

So I spoke to one candidate in a critical swing district in Iowa yesterday, I asked him about the President’s rhetoric, he said he instead was focused on deliverables. I said to him, “You know, you don’t really sound like the President on this. He said, “No, you know, I’m just myself.” His name is David Young. And that’s what he kind of wants to send forward.

We’re in Kansas City as well. There’s a district in Kansas also full of suburban voters where these are not the issues that they are focused on. Now it could be a different story in the Senate, where the terrain is a much redder state. But for these House districts in suburban areas, this may not be the way the President wants to close.

GUTHRIE: Well, it’s a gamble, we’ll see how it turns out six days from now. Kasie, thank you very much.

Here is a full transcript of the October 31 report on CBS This Morning:

7:07 AM ET

GAYLE KING: Tonight the President begins a series of 11 rallies in six days leading up to the midterm elections. Health care is a top issue for voters across the country, including Florida. Now, our Battleground Tracker poll found three out of four Floridians say it’s very important to their vote, just ahead of the economy. Nancy Cordes is in Miami Beach with more on this story. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. And here in Florida, and really around the country, health care has been a huge part of the closing argument for both parties. But especially for Democrats, who have been looking at the polling for months and believe that the party is vulnerable on this issue.             

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Midterm Countdown; 76% of FL Voters Say Healthcare is Most Important Issue]

ANDREW GILLUM: I believe that health care should be a right.

CORDES: Turn on the TV and it’s not hard to spot the Democratic message.

BETO O’ROURKE: Ted Cruz has voted to take away health care from millions of American families.

JOE MANCHIN: Now, the threat is Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit to take away health care.

CORDES: Over the past two months, more than half of all Democratic ads in federal races mentioned health care, highlighting GOP opposition to ObamaCare...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [MEMBER OF CONGRESS, MAY 4, 2017]: The ayes are 217, the neighs are 213.

CORDES: ...as the law’s popularity has bounced back from a low in 2013. At Community Health of south Florida, ObamaCare led to a drop in the rate of uninsured patients from 70% to 50%.

DR. ABIONA REDWOOD [COMMUNITY HEALTH OF SOUTH FLORIDA]: Once they got coverage, they were able to come a lot more often. With a closer follow-up, have better control of their diseases.

CORDES: The clinic is located in Florida’s 26th district, represented by Republican Carlos Curbelo. His Democratic challenger has hammered him on ObamaCare.

DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL: He actually voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in a district where we have the second largest number of people enrolled in the ACA.

CORDES: Curbelo argues premiums are still rising too fast and that the GOP plan would have been better. If you had been successful in repealing and replacing ObamaCare, what would have happened to all the people here in your direct who rely on it?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO [R-FL]: They would be part of a health care system that’s more coherent and we would be on a more sustainable path towards better health care in our country.

CORDES: President Trump is campaigning for Republicans here in Florida today. He’s been trying to change the conversation to immigration, an issue where Republicans think, Gayle, that they have the edge.

KING: Alright, Nancy, thank you very much.


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