David Gregory: Obama Must 'Harness Anger' of Wall Street Protests, Combat 'Unfairness' in Economy
Appearing on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press host David Gregory discussed the political impact of the Wall Street protests and wondered: "How does the President try to harness this anger, this sense of unfairness about the economy, about income inequality in this country, about the middle class stagnating for the past 30 years? That's what the President wants to try to tap into here."
Gregory then declared that the left-wing movement, "allows the President to drive a populist message again." He went on to write talking points for Obama: "Here the President wants to say, 'Look, I'm on the side of the middle class here. I want more fairness in our country. The Republicans want to take you backward.'" The headline on screen read: "Can 'Occupy Wall Street' Protests Help Obama?"
Co-host Ann Curry had prompted Gregory to describe how the Wall Street protests could benefit Obama as she asked: "Is there a lesson for the Democrats, for the President, in how the Republicans dealt with the Tea Party, in terms of how the President could maybe mobilize these anti-Wall Street demonstrators?"
Here is a full transcript of Curry's October 7 discussion with Gregory:
ANN CURRY: David Gregory is moderator of Meet the Press. David, good morning.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Ann.
CURRY: Surprising candor from the Vice President. Do you think that he might regret acknowledging the administration's vulnerability in 2012?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Biden: GOP Strong Enough to Win White House]
GREGORY: No, I don't think so. Nobody's trying to sugarcoat how vulnerable the President is because of this economy. It is where it is. I mean, the historical headwinds are significant for this president and for his vice president as he faces re-election. But I do think they're trying to position themselves to say, 'Look, we know we're vulnerable, but this is going to be a choice in this election and we've got a better approach in a very difficult economy, a better approach than the Republicans,' who, as the vice president noted, would still be strong enough to defeat this President under these circumstances.
CURRY: The Vice President used the word "underdog," a word that the President actually used earlier this week. Is it possible that this is part of an administration strategy to mobilize its base?
GREGORY: I think it is. I think there's no question they're trying to communicate, as Chuck just mentioned, the urgency of getting out and mobilizing the vote. They know, this administration does, that they need young people, they need minority voters, they need the key elements of their base to come out strong next year. They also need Latino voters across the country to come out strong. They've got to rely on those elements of the base to come out when they know there's a lot of swing voters, middle-of-the-road voters, who are not going to vote for this president, perhaps just because of the economy. And if there's no movement, the President doesn't really expect that he's going to get this full jobs bill through. So there's not a lot of movement. They at least have to, you know, rely on the idea that there'll be an alternative.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Will Obama's Tough Tactics Work?]
CURRY: Meantime, Newt Gingrich earlier this week described this anti-Wall Street movement, this "Occupy Wall Street" movement, he suggested it should be seen as a black mark on President Obama's record. Is there a lesson for the Democrats, for the President, in how the Republicans dealt with the Tea Party, in terms of how the President could maybe mobilize these anti-Wall Street demonstrators?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Can "Occupy Wall Street" Protests Help Obama?]
GREGORY: Well, you raise a key point. How does the President try to harness this anger, this sense of unfairness about the economy, about income inequality in this country, about the middle class stagnating for the past 30 years? That's what the President wants to try to tap into here. Yes, it's difficult for the President because it manifests what people are anxious about, what they're angry about. But at the same time, it allows the President to drive a populist message again. You heard him yesterday – the Vice President, too – talking about banks being part of the problem, complaining about the fees that Bank of America is charging on ATM use. Here the President wants to say 'Look, I'm on the side of the middle class here. I want more fairness in our country. The Republicans want to take you backward.'
CURRY: Meantime, fresh from your interview with the Vice President – good one, by the way – you're going to be in Chicago and I understand you've got some special guests there?
GREGORY: Yeah, we'll be talking about the economy with Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to the President and now Mayor of Chicago, also talk to Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Yeah, we'll have a special edition from Chicago on Sunday.
CURRY: Alright, on Meet the Press. David Gregory, thank you so much.