NBC's Gregory Dismisses Santorum Concerns Over Obama Second Term as 'Just Hyperbole and Demagoguery'

In a hostile interview with Rick Santorum on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory attempted to paint the Republican presidential candidate as some kind of paranoid conspiracy theorist simply by voicing opposition to President Obama's reelection.

Gregory hyped recent comments by Santorum: "You've talked about this in terms of why you believe the President is dangerous, that re-electing the President would unmask some sort of hidden plan that he has for a second term....What is that secret plan that your so worried about? And is that not just hyperbole and demagoguery?"

Gregory played a sound bite of Santorum's supposedly hyperbolic rhetoric in response to Obama's contraception mandate: "I suspect that they will be back down here rather shortly, but it's a lesson learned of what this president would do if he's got another term and he doesn't have to worry about re-election." Notice the terms "dangerous" or "secret plan" are nowhere to be found in that statement.

In response to Gregory's own "hyperbole and demagoguery," Santorum explained: "It's not secret at all....The President's agenda is very, very clear, he believes, as someone who's smarter than everybody else, that they should make decisions for you....government taking over choices from people."

In his next question to Santorum, Gregory made this assertion: "I want to stay on some of the social issues that have come, I think, to define your campaign, that certainly give a lot of energy to your campaign and to your supporters." After Gregory then asked about gay marriage, Santorum corrected him:

Well, first off, it's not what's defining my campaign. I would say that what's defining my campaign is going out and talking about liberty, talking about economic growth, talking about getting manufacturing jobs back here to this country, trying to grow this economy to make sure that everybody in America can participate in it....So my campaign isn't defined by social issues, I understand the media wants to focus that on those issues, but I've been talking about the issues of economic growth, I've been talking about opportunity for everybody, I've been talking about freedom being at stake.

As evidence of Gregory's belief, nearly the entire interview centered around him grilling Santorum on social issues, without a single economic or foreign policy question. Minutes later, Gregory obnoxiously wondered if Santorum would allow working mothers to serve in his administration.


Here is a portion of Gregory's February 12 exchange with Santorum:

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10:50AM ET

GREGORY: You talk about this in broader terms, as I brought up with Mr. Lew, the idea that a lot of conservatives have, that this is beyond the religious freedom issue, but this is what happens when government makes health care decisions. That's your argument and the argument of others. You've talked about this in terms of why you believe the President is dangerous, that re-electing the President would unmask some sort of hidden plan that he has for a second term. This is what you said recently on Fox News.

SANTORUM: I suspect that they will be back down here rather shortly, but it's a lesson learned of what this president would do if he's got another term and he doesn't have to worry about re-election.

GREGORY: What is that secret plan that your so worried about? And is that not just hyperbole and demagoguery?

SANTORUM: It's not secret at all. I mean, the President went out and promoted, at the time he was promoting ObamaCare, a program of cap and trade, where he wants to control, and literally control people's ability to use energy and charge you for that energy in a way that, again, that the government decides the allocation of these resources. The President's agenda is very, very clear, he believes, as someone who's smarter than everybody else, that they should make decisions for you. And that, whether it's health care, whether it's Dodd-Frank and having this consumer protection board that's going to go out and tell people what kind of loans they're going to get, who's going to qualify, who's not, this government taking over choices from people.

Even if you look at the Medicare system, which we may be talking about, I mean, the idea that, you know, Ron Wyden and Paul Ryan come together and say, "Look, we're going to give Medicare recipients choices as to what is best for them, and President Obama says, "Oh, you give people choices, that's throwing people off a cliff, we need to make those decisions for them, we're the ones who should decide what kind of health care everybody should have. It is a top-down, that government-knows-best attitude, and it's reaching more and more places in peoples' lives.

GREGORY: I want to stay on some of the social issues that have come, I think, to define your campaign, that certainly give a lot of energy to your campaign and to your supporters. Let me ask you about gay marriage, an issue you've talked a lot about, Proposition 8 out in California became an issue this week, if the Supreme Court decided that gays and lesbians had a constitutional right to marry. What would President Santorum do? Would you respect that decision by the judiciary?

SANTORUM: Well, first off, it's not what's defining my campaign. I would say that what's defining my campaign is going out and talking about liberty, talking about economic growth, talking about getting manufacturing jobs back here to this country, trying to grow this economy to make sure that everybody in America can participate in it.

I, you know, went after, as you know, Governor Romney very hard for this idea that he's not concerned about the very poor or the very rich. I'm concerned about everybody. And if you look at the track record, it's one that does reach down and makes sure that everybody has an opportunity, whether it was the work that I did on welfare reform or the work that I did on creating all sorts of, you know, opportunities for people who are lower income, whether in my state or through economic, you know, enterprise opportunities for lower income people. So my campaign isn't defined by social issues, I understand the media wants to focus that on those issues, but I've been talking about the issues of economic growth, I've been talking about opportunity for everybody, I've been talking about freedom being at stake.

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