NBC on Isaac: Obama Being Presidential; 'Difficult' for GOP Convention to Continue

In a Tuesday 10 a.m. et NBC News special report on President Obama declaring a state of emergency for Gulf Coast states in the path of Hurricane Isaac, Today co-host Matt Lauer gushed: "Politics 101, you've got your opponents in Tampa and Mitt Romney's about to tell Americans why he should be elected president, if you're the president, you go out and act like the president." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Meet the Press host David Gregory agreed: "Yeah, you do your job." As they both anchored the coverage from the Republican National Convention, Gregory observed that Obama's statement "...happens as there's so much anxiety here among the campaign and the party organizers about how to approach this and the optics of a split-screen, storm coming and a big political party." After the President spoke about the impending storm, Gregory added: "Again, it only underscores how difficult it is for a Republican Party to move forward with this convention, with that potential threat."

Both Lauer and Gregory made sure to reference Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans in 2005. Lauer noted: "Obviously the timing of this storm bearing down on New Orleans all bringing back memories of 2007 [2005] and Katrina." He then described the government response to Isaac as "an opportunity for the President," but that any failure would mean paying "an enormous price."

Gregory responded: "I think, frankly, after Katrina, and you it when President Bush was still in office, any president takes an approaching storm very seriously to make sure that the federal government is doing everything that the state needs, and then some."

As Obama finished speaking, Lauer zeroed in on the political message of the declaration: "He said things like 'at my direction, FEMA is engaged,' 'I approved a disaster declaration,' 'as president, I'm making sure the federal government is doing everything possible.' Leaving no doubt in the minds of people out there who's in charge."


Here is a full transcript of the August 28 exchange:

10:08AM ET

MATT LAUER: And I'm Matt Lauer live in Tampa, Florida at the Republican National Convention. Tropical Storm Isaac is just starting to bear down on the central Gulf Coast right at this moment. President Obama is about to speak out about that storm from the Diplomatic Room at the White House. Let's bring in NBC's David Gregory, moderator of Meet the Press. And David, Politics 101, you've got your opponents in Tampa and Mitt Romney's about to tell Americans why he should be elected president, if you're the president, you go out and act like the president.

DAVID GREGORY: Yeah, you do your job. And you talk about what the federal government is actually doing to help people who are in the storm's path, that's what the President is doing. And it happens as there's so much anxiety here among the campaign and the party organizers about how to approach this and the optics of a split-screen storm coming and a big political party.

LAUER: Yeah, obviously the timing of this storm bearing down on New Orleans all bringing back memories of 2007 [2005] and Katrina. It presents an opportunity for the President. But, if you fail to deliver the kind of response that's needed, there's an enormous price that will be paid.

GREGORY: Well, there is. And I think, frankly, after Katrina, and you it when President Bush was still in office, any president takes an approaching storm very seriously to make sure that the federal government is doing everything that the state needs, and then some. And is even taking a bigger role. And we've seen, with Bobby Jindal, who is the Republican governor of Louisiana, thought to be on Mitt Romney's short list, it's very important.

LAUER: Already criticizing. Here's the President:

[OBAMA STATEMENT ON ISAAC]

LAUER: President Obama, who's speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House this morning before taking off on a three-state trip. Talking about expressions, David, we just talked about how you go out there and you do the job, as you put it. He said things like "at my direction, FEMA is engaged," "I approved a disaster declaration," "as president, I'm making sure the federal government is doing everything possible." Leaving no doubt in the minds of people out there who's in charge.

GREGORY: Right. And you don't want to be too cynical about it, but when the President talks about, "this is a big storm, no time to tempt fate," there's some serious potential consequences here. Again, it only underscores how difficult it is for a Republican Party to move forward with this convention, with that potential threat.

LAUER: Understanding that so much media attention will be paid not only to what's going on here in Tampa, but what's happening in the Gulf Coast with this storm, as the President takes off now for Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, would you expect to see him in the Gulf Coast region when this storm passes through?

GREGORY: Oh, certainly. Particularly if there's severe damage. I think that any president would want to be there, and certainly in an election year, to make sure that they're getting everything they need. There is a Republican governor who, as you mentioned, has been critical about not getting the support in the declaration of emergency support that he may need. So I think the President would want to head that off.

LAUER: Alright, so obviously it's a story being handled by the President from the White House and it's also something that will be addressed – there will be, I would imagine, some mention of what's going on in the Gulf as this convention kicks off later today.

GREGORY: For sure.

LAUER: David Gregory. David, thanks very much.

GREGORY: Thanks, Matt.

LAUER: Good luck tonight, we appreciate it. We're going to have more on Isaac throughout the day on MSNBC and tonight on NBC Nightly News.

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