NBC's Todd: After Creating 'Economic Havoc,' House GOP 'Partied and Got Drunk' in Israel

Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd used reports of a Republican congressman skinny dipping during a 2011 trip to Israel to slam the GOP: "...a bunch of freshman House Republicans who came to Washington trying to stop things...create this confrontation with the President over the debt ceiling...created all sorts of economic havoc....they partied, got drunk and one of them went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up Todd by wondering if the actions of Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder on that trip were "a momentary personal embarrassment or does it have worse tidings for the party as a whole?" Todd responded: "This took place two weeks after the paralysis over the debt ceiling. Two weeks after the United States credit rating was downgraded.....It's not exactly what an institution with an approval rating hovering in the teens, on a good day, wants to be showing."

The discussion began with Guthrie citing comments from Republican Missouri Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin that "legitimate rape" did not result in pregnancy and asking Todd: "Do you think this will have an effect on the Republican race for president, where the female vote is so important?"

Todd touted the Obama campaign already hitting Mitt Romney on social issues: "...they have been playing to women voters...talking about how Mitt Romney would defund Planned Parenthood....questioning his commitment not just on issues like reproductive rights but also on contraception."

Todd went on to declare that Republicans " are petrified of this women's issue." He explained: "Right now the gap is double-digits, particularly in places like Virginia and Colorado....in the past Republicans have lost races in both of those states because of the issue of abortion, because of issues having to do with women's reproductive rights and contraception."

Leading up to Guthrie's segment with Todd, correspondents Andrea Mitchell and Kelly O'Donnell reported on the "high-profile distractions" for the GOP.


Here is a full transcript of Todd's August 20 exchange with Guthrie:

7:10AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Chuck Todd is NBC's political director, chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Savannah.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; GOP Under Fire After Recent Incidents]

GUTHRIE: Let's start with Congressman Akin's remarks. Obviously it will have an impact on his race in Missouri. But let me ask you the larger question, do you think this will have an effect on the Republican race for president, where the female vote is so important?

TODD: Well, if you look at the Obama campaign, they have been playing to women voters, specifically they've been running targeted TV ads in places like northern Virginia and Colorado already talking about how Mitt Romney would defund Planned Parenthood. That he wouldn't be for – questioning his commitment not just on issues like reproductive rights but also on contraception.

As for Akin, keep an eye over the next 24 hours, there is a very, very small window. The damage here could be so bad for him, there's a small window that you may see Republicans try to pressure him to quit the race. There's a 24-hour window to do this by law, by tomorrow. Now, if that doesn't happen by tomorrow, Akin stays on the ballot in a race that Republicans thought they were going to win and possibly get control of the Senate. It may slip away, and that could mean control of the United State Senate. So lots of national impact here.

GUTHRIE: Absolutely. The Romney campaign, of course, was very quick to release the statement which Kelly O'Donnell had in her piece. I mean I assume this is a conversation that the Romney campaign does not want to be having right now.

TODD: Look, you brought up the gender gap issue. They are petrified of this women's issue. Right now the gap is double-digits, particularly in places like Virginia and Colorado. I keep coming back to those two states because in the past Republicans have lost races in both of those states because of the issue of abortion, because of issues having to do with women's reproductive rights and contraception. So they're very sensitive to it. And I think you see they know those ads have been effective already. That's why they ran so fast, that's what was fascinating to me, just politically yesterday, was watching the Romney campaign react proactively, not wait for a reporter question.

GUTHRIE: And let me ask about Congressman Kevin Yoder, who has now admitted jumping naked into the Sea of Galilee. Let's get your take on this. Is this a momentary personal embarrassment or does it have worse tidings for the party as a whole?

TODD: Well, I think it's – certainly the timing of it is pretty bad. And look at – think about when this took place. This took place two weeks after the paralysis over the debt ceiling. Two weeks after the United States credit rating was downgraded. So I think the perception of a bunch of freshman House Republicans who came to Washington trying to stop things, trying to, you know, create this confrontation with the President over the debt ceiling, which, of course, in turn created all sorts of economic havoc, the debt ceiling. And what did they do two weeks later, they partied, got drunk and one of them went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. It's not exactly what an institution with an approval rating hovering in the teens on a good day, wants to be showing.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Chuck Todd in our Washington newsroom, thank you.

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