NBC Brings on Pelosi to Bash Romney Over Video, A 'Gift From Above' for Democrats

In an interview with Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up the liberal congresswoman to rip into Mitt Romney over a hidden camera video of him at a fundraiser: "Republicans and Democrats have criticized him for it. I'm sure Democrats view it as a gift from above, but do you think with the big issues facing our country, this is something that should be a substantive part of our campaign?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Predictably, Pelosi was eager for the topic to be an issue in the presidential race: "Absolutely. This is fundamental." She slammed Romney for having "demonstrated the demeaning attitude that...[he] has toward a large segment of the American people." In an odd slip of the tongue, she referred to "Governor Obama," but Guthrie never corrected her.

To Guthrie's credit, she did raise a similar incident involving Barack Obama speaking at a fundraiser in 2008: "...then-Senator Obama was quoted calling Pennsylvania voters "bitter" and said that they clung to their guns and their religion. Do you see any difference between those two scenarios?"

After Pelosi completely dodged the question, Guthrie followed up: "In terms of a moment where a candidate, in speaking candidly to private fundraisers, speaks somewhat disparagingly of some voters, do you see a difference between those two scenarios?" Pelosi argued: "I think it's a drastic difference. What Governor Romney said here was disparaging to our whole system, our whole system, which is that we are a sense of community."

Guthrie also asked if Pelosi approved of such secret video taping at private campaign events. Pelosi replied: "I don't think there's ever any private fundraiser. I think that when you run for president, everything you say is a matter – should be a matter of public record, or it can be." Guthrie wondered: "So you don't change your wording behind closed doors?" Pelosi asserted: "No, no, I always assume, and I say what I believe."

Moving on to congressional politics, Guthrie asked Pelosi if Republicans would cooperate with Democrats if President Obama won reelection:

Let me ask you something about the President has been saying a lot on the campaign trail, that if he wins reelection he'll have a better time of it, he be able to get more done, essentially, because he believes the fever will break, that the Republicans will stop blocking his – his agenda. You've been around Congress a long time. Do you share that optimism?

Pelosi proclaimed: "Well, first of all, when we were in the majority and the President in his first two years, we had the most productive Congress in history for the American people....We cooperated with President Bush when I was speaker and he was president."

Rather than challenge Pelosi on those statements, Guthrie simply turned to Democratic chances of winning back the House: "Is it a long shot at this point? Would you call it 50/50?" Pelosi declared: "Oh, no, I think it's 50/50 and especially since the selection of Ryan, that tipped things very much our way because that put the issue of Medicare. Ryan wants to sever the Medicare guarantee, it will be gone..." Again, no challenge from Guthrie.

Wrapping up the soft interview, Guthrie fumbled Pelosi's congressional title and explained: "...we're so used to saying Speaker that I messed it up."


Here is a full transcript of the September 19 segment:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Romney allows the press into two new fundraisers and offers no apologies. This morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is here to weigh in.

7:08AM ET SEGMENT:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is the House Democratic leader. Congresswoman Pelosi, it's good to see you.

NANCY PELOSI: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: Let's talk about this tape. Mitt Romney has said it may have been inelegantly stated, but he stands by the sentiment. Republicans and Democrats have criticized him for it. I'm sure Democrats view it as a gift from above, but do you think with the big issues facing our country, this is something that should be a substantive part of our campaign?

PELOSI: Absolutely. This is fundamental. As the President said last night, the president has to be president of all the people. This, unfortunately, demonstrated the demeaning attitude that Governor Obama [Romney] has toward a large segment of the American people.

GUTHRIE: This tape reminded a lot of people of a moment in 2008, during the Democratic campaign, when then-Senator Obama was quoted calling Pennsylvania voters "bitter" and said that they clung to their guns and their religion. Do you see any difference between those two scenarios?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Pelosi in the House; Is it Fair to Blame Romney for Private Remarks?]

PELOSI: I see a difference in this respect because this clearly differentiates President Obama from Governor Romney. The Democrats believe in reigniting the American dream, to build ladders of opportunity for all who want to work hard, play by the rules, and take responsibility. And this – and we know we have a lot of work to do to get that done. With this he says, "I'll get my ladder and walk away, the rest of you are not even trying."

GUTHRIE: In terms of a moment where a candidate, in speaking candidly to private fundraisers, speaks somewhat disparagingly of some voters, do you see a difference between those two scenarios?

PELOSI: I think it's a drastic difference. What Governor Romney said here was disparaging to our whole system, our whole system, which is that we are a sense of community. Many of the people he is talking about not paying taxes include thousands of millionaires not paying taxes. But the fact is even Republicans disagree with the idea that – that he is proposing.

GUTHRIE: This was secretly recorded by someone who was supposed to be at a private fundraiser. As somebody who speaks a lot at private fundraisers, do you approve of that conduct?

PELOSI: I don't think there's ever any private fundraiser. I think that when you run for president, everything you say is a matter – should be a matter of public record, or it can be. Especially

GUTHRIE: So you don't change your wording behind closed doors?

PELOSI: No, no, I always assume, and I say what I believe. And I think that's what Governor Romney did. I think he said what he believed, and what he believed is to – is not in furtherance of the American dream for the American people, work hard, play by the rules, take responsibility. And it is – what are we talking about? People on Social Security, they paid into that. People on Medicare, many of them – most of them paid into that. So it's a – it's even a false – it's even a false premise that he's putting forth, but it's a demeaning one.

GUTHRIE: Real quickly on this. Governor Romney opened up his last two fundraisers to the public, to the media, to cameras. Would you be willing to do the same kind of thing? Do you think the President should do the same kind of thing?

PELOSI: Well that's really mostly up to the host. People sometimes don't want cameras in their homes or whatever that is. That's really up to the host. As far as I'm concerned, every event is a public event unless you're going to confession or something.

GUTHRIE: Let me ask you something about the President has been saying a lot on the campaign trail, that if he wins reelection he'll have a better time of it, he be able to get more done, essentially, because he believes the fever will break, that the Republicans will stop blocking his – his agenda. You've been around Congress a long time. Do you share that optimism?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, when we were in the majority and the President in his first two years, we had the most productive Congress in history for the American people, but we fully intend to win this election, and one way or another there has to be cooperation. We cooperated with President Bush when I was speaker and he was president. There has to be cooperation. We owe it to the American people.

GUTHRIE: You need 25 seats to win back the Democratic majority in the House. Is it a long shot at this point? Would you call it 50/50?

PELOSI: Oh, no, I think it's 50/50 and especially since the selection of Ryan, that tipped things very much our way because that put the issue of Medicare. Ryan wants to sever the Medicare guarantee, it will be gone, and we want to make sure that it is a guarantee, not a gamble.

GUTHRIE: I know it's an issue you're talking a lot about on the campaign trail. House Leader – Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, thank you, we're so used to saying Speaker that I messed it up.

PELOSI: Thank you, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: But thank you for being here, appreciate it.

PELOSI: My pleasure, thank you.

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