NBC's Curry Chides 'Disrespectful' Republicans Not Attending Obama's Speech

Talking to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry fretted over a handful of congressional Republicans declining to attend President Obama's upcoming jobs speech to a joint session of Congress: "At least three Republicans are not going to be in the audience....is this disrespectful to the office of the president, Joe?"

Scarborough responded: "I don't know if it's disrespectful. I don't think it's very smart....Americans want to see these two sides working together. Now, that may not excite the base, but that's exactly where middle America is."

Curry turned to analysis of Wednesday's Republican debate and wondered: "Did Rick Perry say what he needed to say to maintain his momentum, as he's now currently the leading candidate?" Scarborough gave a harsh review:

I don't think so. I think Rick Perry's biggest problem is going to be the Social Security issue. He keeps calling it a Ponzi Scheme. Now, if you want to say Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme and this is what we need to do to fix it, that's fine. But he doesn't do that....I don't care what primary you're running in, I don't care how powerful the Tea Party is, that's going to spell problems throughout this election cycle.

Later, Scarborough went so far as to predict the downfall of Perry's candidacy: "The question is, does Rick Perry survive a month or two? I don't know that he does. I think Mitt Romney's people are very happy with where they are right now."


Here is a full transcript of the September 8 segment:

7:13AM ET  

ANN CURRY: For more on the President's speech tonight and the GOP debate, we've got Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Hey, Joe, good morning.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Hey, good to be with you, Ann.

CURRY: So what could the President possibly say to turn around the country, the direction of the country and his poll numbers?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; What Can President Obama Do to Turn Things Around?]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: The President is in a very difficult spot. People have heard jobs speeches before. But most Americans just don't think the President or Republicans have focused on it. The first two years, there was a huge debate about health care. This past year, we've been talking about the deficit. This president is going to have to say something that jolts America into action, that jolts Congress into action, and he's going to have to be seen as strong. This is a president whose own base believes is far too weak. And he was preempted by the Republican debate last night and preempted by the Packers tonight. Because of that, this is going to be showing at 4:00 on the west coast.

CURRY: Meantime, no matter what he says, at least three Republicans are not going to be in the audience, including Jim DeMint.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

CURRY: And one of these Republicans is actually saying that he's going to opt to hold a Twitter town hall during the speech. I mean, is this disrespectful to the office of the president, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH: I don't know if it's disrespectful. I don't think it's very smart. It's not like the President has gained much traction in the past with these sort of speeches. I think Republicans, just like the President, have an American people who are waiting to see them work together. You look at poll after poll after poll, Americans have lost confidence in the President, they've lost confidence in Republicans in Congress and Americans want to see these two sides working together. Now, that may not excite the base, but that's exactly where middle America is.

CURRY: Okay, let's think about what happened last night at the GOP debate, did Rick Perry say what he needed to say to maintain his momentum, as he's now currently the leading candidate?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Who Won & Lost at Last Night's GOP Debate?]

SCARBOROUGH: I don't think so. I think Rick Perry's biggest problem is going to be the Social Security issue. He keeps calling it a Ponzi Scheme. Now, if you want to say Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme and this is what we need to do to fix it, that's fine. But he doesn't do that. He says it's a Ponzi Scheme, it's a lie. He wrote in his book last year that it 'does violence to American values.' I don't care what primary you're running in, I don't care how powerful the Tea Party is, that's going to spell problems throughout this election cycle.

CURRY: And it's clear that Mitt Romney is making hay of that already, he was doing that last night. But I guess the other question is, what about the other candidates? I mean, really, to be honest with you, so many of the focus was really on these two, and on Twitter, Romney and Perry were the trending topic. I mean, is this a two-man race at this point?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, it's a two-man race right now, but remember, just a few weeks ago, Michele Bachmann was the hot candidate. Earlier this spring, remember who was at the top of the list? Trump. And then 'Apprentice' comes along for the next season. This past fall, it was Sarah Palin. There's always Mitt Romney and somebody else. The question is, does Rick Perry survive a month or two? I don't know that he does. I think Mitt Romney's people are very happy with where they are right now.

CURRY: Meantime, I want to mention that you've got a very personal project you're working on involving 9/11.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. Our show, it tried to figure out, like every show, how are we going to remember what happened on 9/11? I wrote a song ten years ago, we decided to finish it up and put it to video and it's called 'Reason to Believe.' And it's – hopefully it's moving. We're working with Willie Geist and Operation Mend to try to help some soldiers coming home.

CURRY: Alright, a personal project. Thank you so much for putting your heart into it, Joe Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH: Alright, Ann. Thank you for having me.

CURRY: As you did in this interview. So, thank you.

SCARBOROUGH: Appreciate it.

CURRY: And of course you can watch President Obama's address to Congress tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on NBC.

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