NBC's Gregory: Paul Ryan is 'Hurting the Republican Party' With Medicare Reform Push

Appearing on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press host David Gregory largely dismissed the possibility of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan entering the 2012 presidential race: "He's got some of his own problems in terms of being the intellectual force behind Medicare reform that is actually hurting the Republican Party."

While Gregory noted that Ryan "didn't close the door" to a potential run, he played up the idea that reforming Medicare would be a political loser in the campaign: "...as they [Republicans] found out in New York-26, in that upstate New York race, that this is an issue that Democrats are going to be able to use against the Republicans if they don't change their message about how Medicare's going to be changed."

The headline on-screen falsely characterized the debate as, "The Politics of Cutting Medicare." In fact, the Ryan plan would actually increase Medicare spending by nearly 70% over the next ten years. On Wednesday, all three network morning shows claimed the GOP planned to make "deep cuts" to Medicare.

Here is a transcript of Gregory's May 27 exchange with Today co-host Meredith Vieira on Ryan:

7:12AM ET

(...)

VIEIRA: Meanwhile, there is speculation that Paul – Congressman Paul Ryan may run. Of course he is the political star of the moment for his effort to slash the federal budget. On Monday – on Wednesday night, Vice President Dick Cheney – former Vice President Cheney praised him by saying 'I worship the ground that Ryan walks on.' He went on to say that he hopes Ryan doesn't actually make a run for the presidency because, quote, 'That would ruin a good man who has a lot of work to do.' What impact might these comments have on the Republican Party going forward?

GREGORY: Well I think it's bigger than Paul Ryan, who said he doesn't have any plans to run this time. He may be looking at it down the road. Is it possible that if somebody comes to him and says, 'We want to put you on the ticket,' that he's open to it? Yeah. When I asked him that question on Meet the Press last week, he didn't close that door.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; The Politics of Cutting Medicare]

But he's got some of his own problems in terms of being the intellectual force behind Medicare reform that is actually hurting the Republican Party. I think the issue of Medicare, as a 2012 issue, is hot right now. And a former vice president saying that he worships Paul Ryan doesn't help the Republican cause very much. They have plenty of support on the right. The bigger concern is, as they found out in New York-26, in that upstate New York race, that this is an issue that Democrats are going to be able to use against the Republicans if they don't change their message about how Medicare's going to be changed.

VIEIRA: And what is coming up this Sunday on Meet the Press, David?

GREGORY: Well, more on all of this, the politics of Medicare, the – how the 2012 race on the Republican side is shaping up. I'll speak to the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

VIEIRA: Okay, busy weekend. David Gregory, as always, thank you very much.

GREGORY: Thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC