On Tuesday’s "Today" show NBC's Matt Lauer confronted Dick Morris about anti-Obama rhetoric in his new book, as the "Today" co-host seemed disturbed by the political consultant's use of terms like "dangerously radical," to describe the Democratic presidential nominee.
Lauer asked Morris if he was "fearmongering," and probed "Are you trying to scare people here?" Lauer then sucked up to the Obama campaign as he pondered that a lot of the "enthusiasm" for Obama is because "he's telling people he's gonna move away from exactly that kind of politics."
The following is the full interview as it occurred on the June 24, "Today" show:
MATT LAUER: Dick Morris is a veteran political warrior. The former Clinton aide turned Clinton nemesis, is out with a new book with the longest title we have ever seen. It's called, Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who Want to Kill Talk Radio, The Do-Nothing Congress, Companies That Help Iran, And Washington Lobbyists For Foreign Governments Are Scamming Us...And What To Do About It. Phew! Dick Morris, good morning. That's a mouthful.
DICK MORRIS: Is the segment over?
LAUER: Yeah that's right. Thank you for being here, good luck with the book. It, it's a catchy title but it might, it might cause some people to say, "But what's the main point?" What, what's your, what's your main point your trying to get across?
MORRIS: Well there are about 10 or 20 of 'em but the, the first chapter is probably the most important, which is this whole debate about what kind of president Obama would make has swirled around an almost existential level. Is he sort of Manchurian Candidate or sleeper agent? Or is he the great hope of the future? What we really do, is we take what he said he'd do as president and really lay it out there.
LAUER: And, and you lay it out there with some pretty catchy words. Obama, here's from the book, quote, "Obama would take the country sharply, suddenly, and dangerously to the far left. He'd raise taxes immediately and substantially." And you go on to say that, voters have missed, quote, "the dangerously radical substance that lies behind his attractive rhetoric."
MORRIS: Sure, well the most significant of the changes that we talk about here is in health care. You know if you raise taxes you can always lower them when they get, get out of office. But the health care stuff is irreversible. When he speaks of 47 million uninsured Americans, he's including 12 million illegal immigrants. And the bulk of his subsidy, the bulk of the increased utilization of health care would be those who are here illegally.
LAUER: I guess but what, "dangerously radical," "suddenly dangerous." Are you trying to scare people here? I mean is this? Go ahead.
MORRIS: What I'm trying to do is to get them to focus on the reality as opposed to the positive or negative hype. But let me explain why it is dangerous. The point is that if you increase utilization of the health care system by bringing those people in, then you and I are gonna be subject to rationing in health care.
LAUER: I guess what I'm getting at, Dick, here, is that when, when you say things like that in the book, and we hear what Charlie Black, a top adviser to John McCain is saying about, "Hey, if we have a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, good for John McCain," a lot of people say, again, that's fearmongering. A lot of the enthusiasm that Barack Obama has gathered in this election, isn't it because in your opinion, that he's telling people he's gonna move away from exactly that kind of politics?
MORRIS: Well, that's, that's what he would like to say, but let me give you a very specific example as to why the terror issue is significant in this.
LAUER: So are you're saying you agree with Charlie Black, what he said?
MORRIS: No, no. But under the current, under the Patriot Act, when the federal government wants to investigate a potential terrorist, they have to persuade a judge that there is relevant to a terror investigation. Obama proposed that you need to show specific evidence that a specific individual is linked to a specific terror group. Most of our Homeland Security operatives would not be able to proceed because that's what you find out after the search is over, not before it's done.
LAUER: But, but critics of what you're saying would say relevance is a very broad term.
MORRIS: Yes but you don't-
LAUER: It can be misinterpreted.
MORRIS: Yeah, but Matt, Obama says we need to apply constitutional standards to terrorist investigations, and he's right if you're gonna prosecute them. But the reason we do the terror investigations is not to prosecute-
LAUER: It's to prevent them.
MORRIS: -it's to find out what they're gonna do and stop them from doing it.
LAUER: Let, let me ask you about a prediction. You were on this show in June of 2007, a year ago, basic-, almost to the day, actually, Dick, and you said Hillary Clinton will not only win the nomination of her party, she will win the presidency. Why did you get it so wrong?
MORRIS: Well I've, I have comforting words for everybody. Now I think Obama is gonna win.
LAUER: But why did you get it so wrong with Hillary Clinton?
MORRIS: Because, because I think she ran the most God awful campaign you can imagine. To run in a Democratic primary and predicate your candidacy on the concept of experience is wrong. People are Democrats because they want change, and Obama brought the symbol of change to people. And I think that there are aspects of Obama that are terrific. I think he'll change our image globally, I think he'll change the self-image of our kids in our inner cities, but I do believe he will bring on a recession by the sudden, huge tax increase.
LAUER: Alright, well so you just bring up the economy and I've only got 30 seconds left, and I apologize for that. But when you look at polls, you got people who are saying that although Barack Obama is pretty much a newcomer, versus John McCain, who spent years and years in the Senate, they trust Barack Obama more with the economy than they do John McCain. Why?
MORRIS: Well, because they're not informed. If you double the tax on capital gains, which means anybody sells their home, the government takes twice as much out of it. Sell any of your stock, they take twice as much out of it, you're gonna drive capital away from the United States, When I was with Bill Clinton, we balanced the budget because we cut the capital gains tax, which raised revenue because there's more transaction. And I believe that if Obama's elected, you can't have these kinds of tax increases without really deepening the recession.
LAUER: You say that under normal circumstances, Barack Obama would be tough to elect, but you think that at this particular time he's the nominee of a party that can't lose?
MORRIS: Yep. You have a candidate that has trouble getting elected atop a candidate, party, that can't lose, and you have a candidate that could probably, in normal times, easily get elected atop a party that can't win. That's why this is gonna be fun.
LAUER: So is it? So he'll win?
MORRIS: That's why, this is gonna be fun.
LAUER: Hillary Clinton II! Here we go, Dick. The book is called, well, it's too long for me to say it. We're out of time. Dick, nice to have you here.