NBC: Obama 'Defying Gravity' By Painting Romney as 'Dangerous'

On Saturday's NBC Today, co-host Lester Holt pondered why President Obama's poll numbers were not lower given the poor economy: "...you look at the polls, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the President still maintaining a three-point lead. Is he defying gravity here, and if so, why?"

Holt directed the question to Time's Mark Halperin, who proclaimed: "Well, he is....People like the President. They still think he – they recognize what he argues, he inherited a lot of problems....people want the President to have more of a chance..." Halperin added: "Governor Romney is still introducing himself to the country....The President's arguing that Governor Romney's not the right way to bet on the country's future..."

Holt followed up by touting Obama campaign attacks on Romney: "...the President seems to be scoring points against Romney about his record in the private sector, Bain Capital not creating jobs in the vision, in the view of the Obama administration. Is that undermining what should be gains for Romney right now?" Halperin explained: "...the President's trying to focus on making Governor Romney seem dangerous and unacceptable."


Here is a full transcript of the July 7 exchange:

7:13AM ET

LESTER HOLT: Mark Halperin is a senior political analyst for MSNBC as well as Time magazine. Mark, good morning. Good to see you.

MARK HALPERIN: Good morning, Lester.

HOLT: The markets didn't like the new unemployment numbers. They were down yesterday. The Dow lost about 120 points. This is affecting people's wallets. Yet you look at the polls, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the President still maintaining a three-point lead. Is he defying gravity here, and if so, why?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: 8.2% Unemployment; What Will Jobs Report Mean for Obama & Romney?]

HALPERIN: Well, he is, and it's interesting because there's two sides of the ledger, right? There's the presidential side. People like the President. They still think he – they recognize what he argues, he inherited a lot of problems. That's one set of possibilities, that people want the President to have more of a chance, despite the bad economic news in the short-term and the medium-term.

The other side of the ledger is the Romney side. Governor Romney is still introducing himself to the country. There's clearly amongst some voters a question – is he the right direction to go? The President's arguing that Governor Romney's not the right way to bet on the country's future, but this is a real puzzle. Is it more on the Romney side or is it more on the Obama side? We just don't know right now.

HOLT: Well, Romney's got a wide-open lane here on these unemployment numbers that he's trying to run with. At the same time, the President seems to be scoring points against Romney about his record in the private sector, Bain Capital not creating jobs in the vision, in the view of the Obama administration. Is that undermining what should be gains for Romney right now?

HALPERIN: Well, again, there's no question that the President, he did it on the stump quite explicitly, he wants to define Governor Romney as someone who's unacceptable based on his business background. And I think it's been clear for a long time, if the election's a referendum up or down, 'Do you want four more years of the economy the way it's been?,' people aren't going to want that. So, the President's trying to focus on making Governor Romney seem dangerous and unacceptable.

And some Republicans are being critical of Governor Romney, he's sort of laying back, taking a week off, maybe not being as aggressive in defining himself on the business background, as some Republicans would like to see. The job situation, the unemployment situation, front and center no doubt, and clearly bad. It's the fight over defining Romney versus making this about the economy that we're going to see play out as we have been over the next couple months.

HOLT: Mark Halperin, good to talk to you. Thanks for coming on.

HALPERIN: Thanks, Lester.

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