NBC's Chuck Todd Uses Sarah Palin to Disqualify Marco Rubio as Potential VP

Appearing on Tuesday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd warned Mitt Romney against picking Marco Rubio as a vice presidential running mate with a negative comparison to Sarah Palin: "The drawbacks – inexperience. Do you want to pick somebody who basically has the same amount of time in statewide office that a person who was on the ticket last time by the name of Sarah Palin had?"

Todd oddly asserted: "...he's never really been vetted. When you say vetted, his campaign for the Senate, he breezed through. He never had the rough and tumble." In what way did he "breeze through"? Rubio had a long and contentious primary battle with former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who then proceeded to run in the general election as an independent. Rubio had to defeat both Crist and the Democrat to win the seat.

Todd also suggested that Rubio was also the wrong kind of Hispanic to appeal to Latino voters: "...it isn't a home run that a Cuban-American is going to appeal to Mexican-Americans where it counts in places like Colorado and Nevada, and New Mexico."

Co-host Matt Lauer piled on: "And [Rubio] has made a couple of misstatements in the past that have kind of cost him a little bit." He then wondered: "Marco Rubio has a very big personality. Is that a good thing? Do you want to add personality or might that overshadow the candidate?" Todd replied: "They don't want somebody to overshadow him [Romney]. And I think that this is a demerit, if you will, for Marco Rubio..."

Continuing to cite Palin as someone that no potential running mate should emulate, Todd offered this suggestion for the Republican VP: "If you put Sarah Palin into a computer and you said, 'give me the opposite of,' you would get [Ohio Senator] Rob Portman. You know, he is quiet. He is workman-like. This is a guy from, by the way, the swing state of Ohio. Has a lot of experience in government."

Todd still found a problem with Portman though: "I think his biggest demerit is going to be his years in the Bush administration. I think having Bush – quote/unquote 'Bush baggage' – not going to be good."

After dismissing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as another pick that might "overshadow" Romney and worrying that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's "last name might be a problem," Todd again brought up Palin in discussing the possibility of Condoleezza Rice:

I think it's going to be tough to pick any woman because of the inevitable comparisons to Sarah Palin, that whole idea of the ten-day. However, Condi Rice is somebody who has her own persona outside of – she wouldn't feel this idea that she would be compared for ten straight days after the pick to Sarah Palin.


Here is a full transcript of the April 24 exchange:

7:14AM ET

MATT LAUER: Five states hold Republican presidential primaries today, including Pennsylvania, where Mitt Romney turned some heads by campaigning on Monday with Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Some believe it may have been a trial run or a preview of the Republican ticket. Chuck Todd is NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Matt.

LAUER: Marco Rubio, first-term Cuban-American senator. He could help Mitt Romney with Latino voters. The Tea Party loves this guy. And he happens to be from the battleground state of Florida. Check, check, check. What am I missing?

TODD: No, you're not missing much. Plus he's young. And there is some idea that you need a generational lift for the Republican ticket. And he might be able to have an appeal to more youthful voters. There's a lot of positives here, but there's some negatives.

LAUER: So what are the drawbacks?

TODD: The drawbacks – inexperience. Do you want to pick somebody who basically has the same amount of time in statewide office that a person who was on the ticket last time by the name of Sarah Palin had? So, that's number one. Two, it isn't – it isn't a home run that a Cuban-American is going to appeal to Mexican-Americans where it counts in places like Colorado and Nevada, and New Mexico. And the third thing is, he's never really been vetted. When you say vetted, his campaign for the Senate, he breezed through. He never had the rough and tumble.

LAUER: And has made a couple of misstatements in the past that have kind of cost him a little bit. Talk about personality and chemistry, okay? Mitt Romney, let's be honest here, is not known as the biggest personality in the room. Marco Rubio has a very big personality. Is that a good thing? Do you want to add personality or might that overshadow the candidate?

TODD: They seem to be focused on this idea. They don't want somebody to overshadow him. And I think that this is a demerit, if you will, for Marco Rubio, a demerit for Chris Christie, even a Jeb Bush. Anybody that will look bigger. You don't want your nominee to look small compared to the running mate.

LAUER: Another guy getting some attention right now is Rob Portman, he's a senator from Ohio. Why is he getting the attention?

TODD: If you put Sarah Palin into a computer and you said, "give me the opposite of," you would get Rob Portman. You know, he is quiet. He is workman-like. This is a guy from, by the way, the swing state of Ohio. Has a lot of experience in government. Would allow this idea, Matt, of doubling down on, okay, it is time to go after the budget and go into the weeds.

LAUER: Yeah, but two very, quiet, subdued, subtle guys. How's that going to work on the campaign tram?

TODD: Well, and that's what's unclear. You know, what's interesting about Portman is that he's always played the person who fills in for the debate. He's done the practice debate guy. So he has more personality than he gets credit for. I think his biggest demerit is going to be his years in the Bush administration. I think having Bush – quote/unquote "Bush baggage" – not going to be good.

LAUER: The next few names, let's just go scale of one to ten, ten being certainty, one being never gonna happen. Chris Christie, you brought his name up before.

TODD: Yeah, I think he's going to get vetted, but I think over time because of the overshadow – the idea that he could overshadow the nominee, that's going to be a problem.

LAUER: Jeb Bush. You know, he said they've been trying to get him to run as the presidential candidate for ages now. He made some waves last week when he said maybe he'd consider the number two slot.

TODD: If they care about the Hispanic vote, I actually think Jeb Bush is a better pick than Marco Rubio. Because he would be able to appeal to Hispanics in a way Marco Rubio wouldn't. But I think, again, the Bush last name might be a problem.

LAUER: You've got a long shot on your list, Condoleezza Rice.

TODD: Well, I do. I think it's going to be tough to pick any woman because of the inevitable comparisons to Sarah Palin, that whole idea of the ten-day. However, Condi Rice is somebody who has her own persona outside of – she wouldn't feel this idea that she would be compared for ten straight days after the pick to Sarah Palin. And that's why I think – plus foreign policy, that matters.

LAUER: Alright, Chuck Todd. Chuck, as always, good to see you.

TODD: You got it.

LAUER: Pleasure.

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