During Friday’s edition of Cuomo PrimeTime, host Chris Cuomo compared President Obama and President Trump, who had both made speeches in the previous 24 hours in attempting to convince Americans to support their respective visions for the country in the upcoming midterm election. After declaring that “pundits are panting about who is better and why,” he argued that the aforementioned pundits were engaging in “wasted time on that level of politics, because it’s all about preference.” Cuomo did not shy away from making his preference perfectly clear.
Cuomo argued that “both men were swept in on waves propelled by populist sentiment. But that’s where their approach and the similarities end. What divides these two men makes all the difference.” He then played a clip of President Obama speaking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he chose to emphasize “common ground.”
After playing a clip of President Obama’s speech, Cuomo instructed the audience to “Contrast that with the Trump stock riff.” At a rally in Billings, Montana Thursday evening, President Trump warned that “What you are going to have is you’ll have a country that’s going to turn into a third world country. Because if the opposite party becomes President, every time before it even starts, before you’ve even found out whether or not he or she is going to do a great job, they’ll say we want to impeach him, and you’ll impeach him. It’s so ridiculous.”
Cuomo began analyzing the speeches, an activity that he had previously described as “wasted time.” The way he covered both of their speeches made it perfectly clear which side of the aisle he lines up with. He described President Trump as an “on-demand demagogue who can sell his version of reality as only a reality show star can.” He also described “Make America Great Again” as a suggestion “to go back, not forward.”
He contrasted that with Obama, whose vision he described as “bridges, not walls, seek common ground, not common enemies. Diversity is a source of strength, not a source of suspicion. Progress, not regress.” He ended with a veiled swipe at President Trump saying “America at her best by her nature leads with her heart, not her hate.” Cuomo surely sees America’s "heart" represented by President Obama and its “hate” represented by President Trump.
Cuomo hardly found himself the only member of the media captivated by former President Obama’s re-emergence in national politics. MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin spent his show on Friday reminiscing about the good old days with former Obama White House staffers. Appearing on Friday’s edition of CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin, Obama loyalist and CNN host Van Jones expressed his gratitude that “a big defender of democracy is back on stage.” Host Brooke Baldwin praised President Obama’s “attacks” on President Trump in his “extraordinary rebuke.” To paraphrase Bernie Goldberg, it looks like the “slobbering love affair” between the media and President Obama has picked up right where it left off.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Cuomo PrimeTime is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CHRIS CUOMO: Big day today, Obama versus Trump. Media is titillated. Pundits are panting about who is better and why. My argument: wasted time on that level of politics, because it’s all about preference. You can use numbers to show whatever you want about either in terms of fiscal metrics. But that isn’t the measure of either man in full, is it? If it were, we’d have an economist in chief. But we don’t. Now, both men were swept in on waves propelled by populist sentiment. But that’s where their approach and the similarities end. What divides these two men makes all the difference. First example, here is how Obama decided to motivate action today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Common ground is out there. I see it every day. Just how people interact, how people treat each other. You see it on the ball field. You see it at work. You see it in places of worship. But to say that common ground exists doesn’t mean it will inevitably win out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Contrast that with the Trump stock riff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: What you are going to have is you’ll have a country that’s going to turn into a third world country. Because if the opposite party becomes President, every time before it even starts, before you’ve even found out whether or not he or she is going to do a great job, they’ll say we want to impeach him, and you’ll impeach him. It’s so ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Which is better? I’ll tell you this, it’s not about partisan stripe. And in terms of productivity, effectiveness, people respond to the idea of fighting for something as well as fighting against something. People will respond to calls to come together as well as calls to keep away. Common ground is powerful, but so is a common enemy. The choice of which of these two to empower as a leader makes all the difference. It is the key compound in the chemistry of our collective character, alliteration intended. You can juice the economy under the influence of either mentality. Proof, Obama came back from a massive recession. Trump took that tail wind and is accelerating growth to record levels in certain regards. But money, the economy is no more the measure of a man than it is a measure of our mettle as people. The choice matters so much that it reverberates through our connective tissue to the marrow of America. What does Trump believe? Might makes right. Strength is harshness to perceived foes. Loud and proud stoke the crowd. An on-demand demagogue who can sell his version of reality as only a reality show star can. The examples, us versus them, immigrants, Muslims, media, black men, G men, government, allies, enemies, all seen through the lens of advantage, avarice, animosity. In a single thought, President Trump is about walls, separation on all levels as a solution. “Make America Great Again” is inherently a suggestion to go back, not forward. Today, Obama reminded of the other choice. Bridges, not walls, seek common ground, not common enemies. Diversity is a strength, not a source of suspicion. Progress not regress. So, which is right? You tell me. Both can get parts of the country riled up and make a popular President. I’ll argue numbers. Trump can’t get to 50 percent his way. Despite an historic economy and list of achievements a mile long by his own reckoning, rallies with the thousands. His problem? Thousands ain’t millions. He cannot get the majority of you to be with him. Not in the election, and not now. Obama was at 60 percent on the way out. His highest was over 70. His lowest around where Trump is at his best in the main. Why? I argue a bigger notion than numbers…nature. America at her best by her nature leads with her heart, not her hate.