NBC's Lauer to Dem: 'We' Versus Republicans

On Wednesday's Today, NBC's Matt Lauer, during an interview with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine seemed to overtly take sides with the Dems as he mocked the GOP's PR strategy of calling reconciliation the nuclear option, as he questioned Kaine: "It does appear, pretty clear now, that the Democrats are gonna have to go it alone in the Senate, what, what we call reconciliation, what the Republicans are calling the nuclear option."

Now perhaps Lauer was using the term "We" as in "we in the media" and not "we Democrats" but later on Lauer expressed concern about the state of the Democratic Party in New York as he asked Kaine about that state's embattled governor: "And David Paterson, the governor of New York. Should he resign? Is he damaging the Democratic Party by sticking around?" [audio available here]

The following is a complete transcript of the interview with Kaine as it was aired on the March 3 Today:

MATT LAUER: Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Governor Kaine, good to see you, good morning.

[On screen headline: "Washington Drama, Fighting Over Health Care, Congress & Emanuel

TIM KAINE: Matt, good to be back with you.

LAUER: We'll talk about Rahm Emanuel in a second. Let's talk start with health care though. It does appear, pretty clear now, that the Democrats are gonna have to go it alone in the Senate, what, what we call reconciliation, what the Republicans are calling the nuclear option. Republicans are saying if this happens, they will bludgeon the Democrats with this issue in the midterm elections. Mitch McConnell saying it will come up in every race across the country. Is this really the best strategy?

KAINE: Yes, it is, Matt. I look forward to the Republicans fighting against a health care reform that helps seniors with prescription drug costs, enables parents to keep their kids on their insurance policies until they're 27, helps small businesses with tax credits to buy insurance and curbs insurance abuses. If they want to run a campaign on "bring back the day of kicking people off for pre-existing conditions" I relish it. The American people are entitled to an up-or-down vote and that's what they're gonna get.

LAUER: And actually it's a little more ironic than that, Governor, because the Republicans used reconciliation a couple of times during the Bush administration to pass tax cuts, so how are they going to go around in the midterm elections and say this was an undemocratic procedure?

KAINE: Right. Matt, the reconciliation is every bit as much a rule of the Senate as the filibuster is, and as you point out, it has been used numerous times over the last two decades for major legislation, for health care legislation, for tax cuts that are much bigger than the financial impact of this bill. So, these guys, they like it when they like it, but now they're complaining about majority rule. The American people understand majority rule and we're gonna have an up-or-down vote on this bill.

LAUER: Let's talk about Rahm Emanuel. This, this Washington Post article has angered some senior White House officials who think, perhaps, that Rahm Emanuel is behind the article, saying that the President should be listening to him more often. You know the key players here. Is Rahm Emanuel a happy camper or are there some bruised egos in the White House?

KAINE: Well, look it's, it is a hard-working and incredibly intense bunch and they're all opinionated, but Rahm's a happy camper and Rahm knows how to get the President to listen to him. The President respects him very, very deeply, and they, they hash issues out and then when the President makes a call, as I heard said earlier, Rahm has no difficulty understanding who's the commander-in-chief. But look, in an opinionated and intelligent bunch like the White House, there's gonna different views. We're all pulling the oar the same direction to get the economy back on track and get health care to happen.

LAUER: Right. Governor, I've got two yes or no answers for you.

KAINE: Okay.

LAUER: Okay I'll give you two questions. I need yes or no answers.

KAINE: Okay.

LAUER: One, should Charlie Rangel give up his leadership role in the House Ways and Means committee?

KAINE: You gonna give the second one or-

LAUER: No go ahead, that one first.

KAINE: On that one I'm gonna leave it to him. I think that he is gonna make an announcement shortly.

LAUER: That's not a yes or no.

KAINE: I know it but look, I'm not a potted plant. He is apparently going to make an announcement fairly quickly. It does need to be resolved after the ethics report and I think you'll hear something soon.

LAUER: And David Paterson, the governor of New York. Should he resign? Is he damaging the Democratic Party by sticking around?

KAINE: I respect his decision not to run for re-election and I think once that decision is made, the issue about a resignation over the course of the next few months is, is not that critical. I think, you know, if he wants to stick at it to try to help New York work through those challenging budget circumstances, that's fine. I do respect the decision not to run next year.

LAUER: It's like trying to get a yes or no answer out of Meredith, governor, but that's alright. Governor Tim Kaine, thanks very much for your time this morning.

KAINE: You bet, Matt. Thanks.

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