'Chorus of Democrats' and NBC Want to Make Romney Wealth a 'Central Issue' in Campaign

In a report on Monday's NBC Today that could have been written by the Obama campaign, correspondent Peter Alexander helpfully touted the Democratic line of attack against Mitt Romney: "...pictures of Romney's week-long family vacation in New Hampshire illustrate his wealth. But it's reports of Romney's offshore accounts that the President's team wants to make a central issue. On Sunday, a chorus of Democrats slammed Romney for lack of transparency regarding his finances."

Alexander made sure to depict Romney as out of touch for holding fundraisers on Long Island:

Greeted by protesters Sunday as he returned to the campaign trail, Mitt Romney hit the Hamptons, scooping up another several million dollars during a series of campaign fundraisers. Among the elite venues, a $75,000 a couple dinner at the ocean-front home of conservative power broker David Koch. And the lavish 57-acre, 40-room estate of Revlon's billionaire chairman Ron Pearlman. The reported ticket price there, up to $25,000 a head.

In contrast, when President Obama attended a series of equally "elite" Los Angeles fundraisers in May, NBC gushed over him "cashing in" with a "boost" to his campaign from "the financial might of Hollywood."

On Thursday, correspondent Ron Mott cited a Vanity Fair hit piece about Romney's wealth at the end of a campaign report.

In addition to furthering Democratic talking points against Romney, Alexander also touted criticism of the Republican presidential candidate from the Right: "...some prominent conservatives are questioning the play-it-safe nature of Romney's campaign. Just days after the Wall Street Journal blasted the Republican's team for potentially 'squandering an historic opportunity.'"

Alexander wrapped up the segment by promoting pro-Obama poll numbers:

...you can expect to see a lot more ads this month, especially in those key swing states. $100 million worth this month alone, by some accounts. There's a new USA Today/Gallup poll that shows...those ads may be helping the President. Among voters who say the ads have changed their mind, 76% say they now support President Obama, just 16% favor Mitt Romney.

Following Alexander's slanted reporting, new Today co-host Savannah Guthrie actually grilled Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs on Friday's weak jobs report and questioned Democratic attacks on Romney's wealth: "...the Obama campaign has been getting a lot of mileage over Romney's personal finances....what relevance does this have to what the President plans to do on the economy? Would you be making these kind of arguments if you had a stronger economy to run on?"

Here were Guthrie's other questions to Gibbs:

>Let's start with the President's announcement today that he wants to extend the Bush tax rates for the middle class. You said as recently as yesterday that the President is committed to ending the Bush tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, this would have the effect of a tax increase on them. What do you say to economists who say that is the worst thing you can do in a fragile economy?

>But Robert, just to stay on that point for a moment, I mean even in 2009, President Obama acknowledged that raising taxes, even on the wealthy, in a recession is bad for the economy. We are not technically in a recession, but this is hardly a bustling economy.

>Let's talk about Friday's jobs numbers. I know they were a disappointment to the White House. It appears the President is not going to be able to run on an economy that is vastly improving. So what is his argument to voters? Why is he going to say he needs another four years to do what he hasn't been able to do in the first four years?

Here is a full transcript of Alexander's July 9 report:

7:03AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, President Barack Obama is expected to call on Congress to pass a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for middle class families today, this as Republicans fight back against new questions about Mitt Romney's personal wealth. NBC's Peter Alexander is in Washington for us this morning. Peter, good morning to you.

PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. And we should say congratulations. Today President Obama is going to try to shift the debate, as you know, away from the struggling jobs market toward that issue of tax fairness. He's going to be kicking off a push to temporarily extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class only, not for wealthier people like Republicans want. And in the process, the President is trying to draw a clear contrast with his challenger Mitt Romney.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Campaigns React to Weak Jobs Report]

ALEXANDER: For President Obama, these must feel like the dog days of summer. Back at the White House but still taking heat for the nation's sputtering economy, with June rounding out the weakest quarter of job growth in two years.

ROBERT GIBBS: We're not growing fast enough and we're not adding enough jobs.

ALEXANDER: On Friday, the President admitted as much.

BARACK OBAMA: What's holding us back right now is not that we don't have good answers for how we can grow the economy faster or put people back to work. The problem is we've got a stalemate in Washington.

ALEXANDER: Mitt Romney supporters are trying to capitalize on that with a massive new ad blitz.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [AD NARRATOR]: Barack Obama's got lots of excuses for the bad economy.

ALEXANDER: Greeted by protesters Sunday as he returned to the campaign trail, Mitt Romney hit the Hamptons, scooping up another several million dollars during a series of campaign fundraisers. Among the elite venues, a $75,000 a couple dinner at the ocean-front home of conservative power broker David Koch. And the lavish 57-acre, 40-room estate of Revlon's billionaire chairman Ron Pearlman. The reported ticket price there, up to $25,000 a head. For the Obama campaign, pictures of Romney's week-long family vacation in New Hampshire illustrate his wealth. But it's reports of Romney's offshore accounts that the President's team wants to make a central issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [AD NARRATOR]: Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem.

ALEXANDER: On Sunday, a chorus of Democrats slammed Romney for lack of transparency regarding his finances.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ [CHAIRWOMAN, DNC]: There's been disturbing reports recently that he's got a Bermuda corporation, a secretive Bermuda corporation that no one knows anything about, investments in the Cayman's, investments in – he's got a Swiss bank account. Why does an American businessman need a Swiss bank account?

ALEXANDER: Romney spokeswoman quickly dismissed them as, "desperate character attacks." Still, some prominent conservatives are questioning the play-it-safe nature of Romney's campaign. Just days after the Wall Street Journal blasted the Republican's team for potentially "squandering an historic opportunity."

BILL KRISTOL [THE WEEKLY STANDARD]: President Obama's had three disappointing months but he's holding his own. And if I were in the Romney campaign, that would worry me.

ALEXANDER: And less than seven weeks until the Republican convention, you can expect to see a lot more ads this month, especially in those key swing states. $100 million worth this month alone, by some accounts. There's a new USA Today/Gallup poll that shows, Savannah, that those ads may be helping the President. Among voters who say the ads have changed their mind, 76% say they now support President Obama, just 16% favor Mitt Romney. Overall, though, this race is still very much neck and neck. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Peter Alexander, thank you so much.

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