Morning Joe Duo: Hurricane Will Halt Romney’s Momentum, Make Obama Look Presidential

Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, MSNBC Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski asserted that impending Hurricane Sandy would help Barack Obama in the election, with Scarborough proclaiming: "Mitt Romney had momentum….This was Mitt Romney's best weekend, and it stops. The momentum stops."

Brzezinski eagerly predicted how the President would be perceived during the storm: "…expect command centers up and down the east coast and the President to be very visible at all of them, telling people about the federal dollars that are on the way, and that will be advantage Obama." Meanwhile, she claimed Romney would be “in an awkward situation," and that "anything he does might look so blatantly political and almost needy, because he’s just not in the equation when the country’s under siege from a massive storm."

Prompted by both co-host Savannah Guthrie, both Scarborough and Brzezinski acknowledged potential “pitfalls” for Obama. Brzezinski admitted: "…something could go wrong and people could maybe perhaps see that the President isn't doing enough."

Scarborough cited Republican presidents being criticized during past Hurricanes:

You know, the two Bushes, Bush 41 and Bush 43, had disasters in their handling of hurricanes. George H. W. Bush, with Andrew, which damaged -- his political career was damaged there. And, of course, George W. Bush in 2005 with Katrina, many people in the Bush White House say that was the low point of his presidency. A lot of dangers, also a lot of political opportunities.


Here is a full transcript of the October 29 segment:

7:43AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Guys, good morning to you.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Good morning.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: Well, speaking of the unknowable, I'll ask you the unanswerable question. If this storm locks the race in place, Joe, who does that benefit?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, it's hard to say, one thing we do know, Bill Clinton is going to be very nervous about having to fill all that space by himself today without Barack Obama.

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, He'll be fine.

SCARBOROUGH: No, no, he's going to do great in Orlando, obviously. But Mitt Romney had momentum. You look at Ohio, an Ohio poll that came out had him deadlocked, a Minnesota poll, three. He gets the endorsement from The Des Moines Register, first endorsement since Nixon got it in '72. In that state, that's a big deal. This was Mitt Romney's best weekend, and it stops. The momentum stops. You don't know how it freezes the race, but you certainly know that it's a new dynamic into the race, and it changes everything with a week to go.

GUTHRIE: It does indeed. The question is how? A lot of people have different theories on which candidate it benefits.

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

GUTHRIE: It's a moment for the President to be commander in chief, to be presidential, but there are pitfalls with that.

BRZEZINSKI: It sure is. There are pitfalls because, you know, something could go wrong and people could maybe perhaps see that the President isn't doing enough. But if this storm is as big as it portends to be, and all indications are that it's gonna be massive, expect command centers up and down the east coast and the President to be very visible at all of them, telling people about the federal dollars that are on the way, and that will be advantage Obama.

SCARBOROUGH: And also, the President’s gonna have the opportunity to go to Virginia, not as a politician, but as a president, somebody there to help out, somebody there to comfort people. You know, the two Bushes, Bush 41 and Bush 43, had disasters in their handling of hurricanes. George H. W. Bush, with Andrew, which damaged -- his political career was damaged there. And, of course, George W. Bush in 2005 with Katrina, many people in the Bush White House say that was the low point of his presidency. A lot of dangers, also a lot of political opportunities.

GUTHRIE: Beyond the optics, let's get practical. Early voting is happening in a lot of these states. We’ve already seen one state, Maryland, cancel early voting for the day. How much of an impact is that, especially for something that the Obama campaign is very much counting on early voting?

BRZEZINSKI: They’re depending on it, they are talking about it, counting on it, absolutely right. It does have an impact. But it also leaves Mitt Romney -- back to the optics -- in an awkward situation. Because anything he does might look so blatantly political and almost needy, because he’s just not in the equation when the country’s under siege from a massive storm.

SCARBOROUGH: And what can a challenger do?

BRZEZINSKI: What can he do?

SCARBOROUGH: The President of the United States yesterday went to the FEMA command center which, by the way, was it cynical? Well, maybe – maybe the people running the campaign we’re saying, "We need to get him there," but the President was doing what presidents do. What does Mitt Romney do? That's – that’s the big question mark.

GUTHRIE: Real quickly, this close to the election, does it matter if they’ve got to cancel these rallies? And what about their ads? I mean, if you're in wall-to-wall coverage in some of these markets, the television ads aren't airing, right?

BRZEZINSKI: Oh my gosh, good point.

SCARBOROUGH: No, they're not airing, certainly. You look at the states on the east coast that are going to be the most impacted, Virginia and New Hampshire. Those states really matter. Obviously Pennsylvania matters as well, because Mitt Romney's people believe they’re closing that race, but it does change everything. The key here is to not look too political. If you do that, that can be a backlash, not only in the states along the coastline that are impacted by this, but across the entire country. It's messy out there, not only weather-wise, but also politically.

GUTHRIE: You two actually interviewed the President over the weekend. You looked him in the eye. Do you think he's feeling the heat, Mika?

BRZEZINSKI: I do, and I think that he's also enjoying the game. We were out there on the rope line watching him interact with people and getting his message out there, and responding to some of the latest kerfuffles in the media, and he seemed right in there, right kind of completely engaged. But the campaign, how could they not be nervous? Look at the polls, look at them.

SCARBOROUGH: You talk to the Romney people, you talk to the Obama people, neither one of them have any idea how this is gonna turn out. They’re both cautiously optimistic…

BRZEZINSKI: It’s crazy.

SCARBOROUGH: …but you can look in their eyes and know they’re also nervous. This is not a slam dunk.

GUTHRIE: Both acting confident. We'll know what happens in eight days.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

GUTHRIE: Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, thank you.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Savannah.

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