NBC's Gregory Suggests Dems Label Virginia Gov. McDonnell an 'Extremist'

Trying to help Democrats come up with a line of attack against the GOP in November on Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory teed up Maryland Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley to slam fellow guest, Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell: "Do you think your counterpart here in Virginia would be a good running mate for Romney or would you cast him as an extremist?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

What would justify such a label? The answer to that can be found in this earlier question Gregory hit McDonnell with: "You backed an abortion bill initially that included a very invasive procedure as part of an ultrasound that the state would have required and then you backed off of that. Were you wrong to support that initially or did you simply back off because the political heat got turned up the way it did?"

Gregory demanded that McDonnell admit the policy was wrong: "Were you wrong? Were you wrong initially when you said this invasive procedure should be part of the bill?"

McDonnell corrected him: "No, I never said that....No, David, I think you're wrong with the facts. What we said simply was that we support the concept of an ultrasound. And through the committee process, I realized that there were some other things in the bill that needed to be amended."

In addition, McDonnell called out Gregory's attempt to distract from other issues: "...this constant focus on social issues is largely coming from the Democrats....I think this is more of people trying to get the focus off the abysmal record of this administration on jobs and the economy, taxes and spending."

Gregory proceeded to invite O'Malley to bash the measure: "Do you think the sense that certainly Democrats are talking about and that some women feel that there is a growing assault on reproductive rights, can it become a more central issue in the race? Or is that going to become a side issue, as the Governor says?"

O'Malley ranted: "...these cultural divisive wedge issues, these sort of roll back of women's rights, roll back of women's access to contraception and other health, roll back of voting rights, roll back of worker's rights, all of these things that take us back are not strengthening our economy and creating jobs."

While Gregory grilled McDonnell on those "cultural divisive wedge issues," he failed to ask O'Malley a single question about his recent approval of the controversial measure to legalize gay marriage in Maryland.  


Here is a portion of the March 11 exchange:

10:59AM ET

(...)

DAVID GREGORY: Let's talk about social issues, because in some cases in the, in the Republican race, this has overshadowed talk about the economy. And you, in fact, in Virginia, have been at the center of some of this. You backed an abortion bill initially that included a very invasive procedure as part of an ultrasound that the state would have required and then you backed off of that. Were you wrong to support that initially or did you simply back off because the political heat got turned up the way it did?

BOB MCDONNELL: No, I think – listen, that was one bill out of a thousand that we passed that was all focused on jobs and economic development, education, and a number of other things.  That's my agenda, is restoring the American dream for people in Virginia. We've got the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and surpluses for two years. That's what I'm doing. This bill allows Virginia to join about 20 other – 23 other states that have an ultrasound procedure.

GREGORY: It's actually only about seven that have these kind of procedures.

MCDONNELL: No, but there's 23 that require a, a woman to have an opportunity to see an ultrasound.

GREGORY: But were you wrong? Were you wrong initially when you said this invasive procedure should be part of the bill?

MCDONNELL: Well – no, I never said that.

GREGORY: Or did you only bend in the heat?

MCDONNELL: No, David, I think you're wrong with the facts. What we said simply was that we support the concept of an ultrasound. And through the committee process, I realized that there were some other things in the bill that needed to be amended. I recommended that to the general assembly, they agreed to it. And so what I think is going on is the focus on this election is not about that. When people go into this voting booth in November, David, they're going to look at who's got the best vision to create jobs, who's got the best idea to get us out of debt and this constant focus on social issues is largely coming from the Democrats. Here's what I'm worried about...

GREGORY: Well, hold on, I want to stop you there...

MCDONNELL: ...there's a war on the...

GREGORY: ...because I'm still, I'm still asking about this issue. Look, you ran in part talking about health care, the President's health care plan.

MCDONNELL: I ran against it, so.

GREGORY: You ran against it, precisely.

MCDONNELL:  Yes.

GREGORY: This was the state of Virginia mandating women have an additional procedure, a mandated health procedure. I thought that's exactly what conservatives opposed?

MCDONNELL: David, this was about stating what informed consent is and saying that women have a right to know certain things before a procedure. Every invasive procedure has an informed consent requirement. So what I think this is is more of people trying to get the focus off the abysmal record of this administration on jobs and the economy, taxes and spending. I'm worried about the war of the administration and some Democratic governors on the American taxpayer.  More taxes, more spending, more debt. Even in Maryland, you've got proposals to increase the sales tax, the gas tax, the tax on cigars, everything else that moves. This is the issue in the race is who's going to keep taxes low on the American middle class? And I think that's why we're going to win.

GREGORY: Do you think the sense that certainly Democrats are talking about and that some women feel that there is a growing assault on reproductive rights, can it become a more central issue in the race? Or is that going to become a side issue, as the Governor says?

MARTIN O'MALLEY: Well, I think the central issue in this race is creating jobs and expanding opportunity. I think these cultural – don't like to use the term wars – these cultural divisive wedge issues, these sort of roll back of women's rights, roll back of women's access to contraception and other health, roll back of voting rights, roll back of worker's rights, all of these things that take us back are not strengthening our economy and creating jobs. And I think that people start to see a pattern, David, emerging in states like Wisconsin, states like Ohio, states like Florida.

GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

O'MALLEY: And sadly, recently, even in Virginia, where these cultural issues are crowding out the things that really should concern us most.

MCDONNELL:  But, David, I would say...

O'MALLEY: Seven, seven out of 10 – seven out of the best 10 states for creating 21st century jobs in science and technology, are governed by Democratic governors. Now Virginia, credit where credit is due, is one of those top states. The question is whether we're making the right investments in jobs, education, more affordable college, that will keep Virginia in that top ranking in the future. Maryland's there. We're making college more affordable, we're creating jobs at twice the rate of Virginia. And these cultural battles that drive people apart are not helpful to driving us forward.

GREGORY: Do you think your counterpart here in Virginia would be a good running mate for Romney or would you cast him as an extremist?

O'MALLEY: Well, I think if you, if you look simply...

MCDONNELL: This is your chance, Martin.

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