Obama Proclaims He 'Won Michigan,' NBC's Gregory Ignores Gaffe

Barack Obama was clearly off his game on Wednesday's "Today" show as he not only confused David Gregory with Matt Lauer but even worse proclaimed that he "won Michigan." Gregory, substitute hosting for Matt Lauer, did remind Obama that it was he and not Lauer that was conducting the interview, but failed to correct the more egregious error of Obama claiming a victory in a state where he wasn't even on the ballot.

The following is the complete interview as it occurred on the March 4, "Today" show:

DAVID GREGORY: How is Senator Barack Obama feeling about his campaign this morning? He joins us now from San Antonio, Texas. Senator good morning to you.

BARACK OBAMA: Good morning, Matt.

GREGORY: It's, it's David today Senator. The reality--

OBAMA: Oh I'm sorry David.

GREGORY: The reality that you are facing in this campaign is that three times you have been able to put Senator Clinton away. You had an opportunity after Iowa. You had an opportunity after South Carolina. You had an opportunity after winning 11 in a row. Why do you think voters are reluctant to give you this nomination?

OBAMA: Oh I don't think they're reluctant David. We, we've had a very tough contest and Senator Clinton is a terrific, hard-working candidate and as you noted we just won 11 in a row which is why we've got this strong lead in the delegates. And so we have just taken it one state at a time and we feel very confident that by the time we get to the convention we're gonna have the most delegates, we will be the nominee and then we're gonna be able to focus on John McCain and the contest in November.

GREGORY: But Senator you have not demonstrated that you can decisively put the nomination away. You have also not demonstrated that you can win some of the big states that'll be important in a general election. California, New York, Ohio.

OBAMA: Well David we've won Michigan and Georgia and Illinois and Missouri. We've won twice as many states as Senator Clinton. We have more of the popular vote. We've won more primaries, more caucuses. Keep in mind what's happened here. We have won decisively in a whole number of states and you know Senator Clinton and her campaign have tended to cherry pick which states they think are important. But the bottom line is, is that we are in a very strong position. Senator Clinton barely dented the delegate count yesterday. We are going on to Mississippi and Wyoming where we feel confident that we can do well. And this process is gonna ultimately be about who's got the most delegates and we think we'll be in that position.

GREGORY: You just heard Senator Clinton. She said, unequivocally, that's not how the process works. That there are pledged delegates but these superdelegates should be independent. Should be able to vote how they want. So let's be clear on what your position is. If she tries to get the superdelegates to come over to her side, even if she trails in the pledged delegates, would you consider that, in effect, stealing the nomination?

OBAMA: No I don't think it would be stealing the nomination. She can try to persuade the superdelegates to support her. I think that most Democrats are gonna feel like whoever has won the most delegates in these primaries and caucuses will end up being the nominee. That's why we have primaries and caucuses, otherwise the superdelegates could just go into a smoke-filled room and make those decisions.

GREGORY: DO you think the party would stand for that?

OBAMA: But, but--

GREGORY: Would they stand for her trying to persuade those superdelegates or would they think it's just patently unfair?

OBAMA: I, I think it, it is perfectly within her rights to try to persuade them but keep in mind what's happened over the last couple of weeks, David. We've picked up scores of superdelegates she hasn't. She's lost superdelegates. And so we feel confident that as long as we just keep talking about the issues that really matter to the American people, talking about how we're gonna make health care more affordable, college more affordable. How we can end the war in Iraq in an honorable way and make us more safe and focus on al Qaeda in Afghanistan. If we talk about those issues and then we're gonna do well and ultimately we'll be the nominee.

GREGORY: One of the big issues is experience. Again, Senator Clinton this morning, on this program says she brings life experience to the White House. Something she said in the past few days. That Senator McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, brings life experience to the White House. Today she suggests, Obama - he brings a speech. What's your response?

OBAMA: Well you know she's been making this argument since the beginning of this contest. And if it was a particularly effective argument then she'd have the delegate lead. I mean the fact of the matter is that Senator Clinton, you know when she runs this 3a.m., you know, phone call ad doesn't cite and can't cite any particular experience that makes her more effective in dealing with these issues of national security and when she did have a red phone moment, when we have the most important foreign policy decision of a generation, she got it wrong. So I'm looking forward to having that debate. I ultimately think that the American people are gonna want a clear break from the Bush-Cheney foreign policies of the past because they haven't made us more safe and more secure. And I think whoever is offering that clean break is gonna be in a much stronger position to debate John McCain. If she thinks that longevity in Washington is the primary criteria for winning the White House, then John McCain is gonna beat her.

GREGORY: Very quick answer. Redo Florida and Michigan?

OBAMA: Well I think that we have played by whatever the rules the DNC has put forward, the Democratic National Committee. And we will continue to play by those rules and whatever the rules are we think we'll do well.

GREGORY: Senator Barack Obama, thank you very much this morning.

OBAMA: Thank you so much David.

Audio available here (137 kB | 17 seconds).

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.