Appearing on Friday's NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw strained to explain why New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsing President Obama would be helpful: "[It] may not move the needle, for example, in Colorado, but in Ohio and in places where they're trying to get white men, they can say, 'Look, this guy has got the endorsement of the Mayor of New York.'" Why would someone in Ohio care?
Co-host Matt Lauer noted that the endorsement "wasn't a very warm hug," prompting Brokaw to argue: "It wasn't a warm hug, but it was tough on Romney about not being the guy that he was when he was Governor of Massachusetts."
Moments later, Brokaw portrayed Bloomberg's support as contributing to other good optics for the President in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: "...you had all those pictures of Governor Christie and the President of the United States and then you had the endorsement by Mike Bloomberg."
Lauer followed up: "Let's talk about the images we're looking at right there. This was Wednesday, this was President Obama and Chris Christie touring some of the devastated areas....But Chris Christie was the keynote speaker at the Republican convention, he's a key ally of Mitt Romney. Did that image hurt the Romney campaign?"
Brokaw replied: "Well, I'm sure that it caused a lot of angst backstage, and I'm sure that in the Obama campaign the operatives were saying, 'Yes, we've got Chris Christie at our side with these extraordinary images.'"
At the end of Thursday's Rock Center, focused entirely on the aftermath of Sandy, host Brian Williams ranted over conservative criticism of Christie: "So after all this loss you might be curious as to why Rush Limbaugh went after Gov. Christie today. It was because he was getting along so well with the President, working together, saying nice things about Barack Obama. Just when we think the storm wiped away everything, we learned politics survived."
Here is full transcript of the November 2 exchange between Lauer and Brokaw:
MATT LAUER: Tom Brokaw is an NBC News special correspondent. Tom, good to see you.
TOM BROKAW: Good to be here, Matt.
LAUER: You've been covering elections for a long time and you always hear people talk about a possible October surprise. Do you think this storm Sandy could be an October surprise?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; How Will Hurricane Sandy Impact Election Results?]
BROKAW: Well, we've had a series of them. The President not showing up for the first debate, Benghazi, and then this surprise. The storm was much larger than anybody thought that it might be two weeks ago, three weeks ago.
LAUER: How will it impact the race though?
BROKAW: I don't know. It's hard to say. I think that the endorsement by Mayor Bloomberg may not move the needle, for example, in Colorado, but in Ohio and in places where they're trying to get white men, they can say, "Look, this guy has got the endorsement of the Mayor of New York."
LAUER: Even though it wasn't a very warm hug.
BROKAW: It wasn't a warm hug, but it was tough on Romney about not being the guy that he was when he was Governor of Massachusetts.
LAUER: I want to go back to Sandy for a second. Its greatest impact has been in states like New Jersey and New York. These aren't swing states.
BROKAW: No, they're already in the column for the President.
LAUER: Right, exactly. So do you think that it won't have an impact on the overall election?
BROKAW: Well, I – it's very hard to know. I think that – I was talking to one of the Romney people the other day. They said, "We think this will go away by Thursday," but on Thursday, of course, you had all those pictures of Governor Christie and the President of the United States and then you had the endorsement by Mike Bloomberg. How that impacts out there, it's hard to say. At this point, from now until Tuesday, it's get out the vote, Matt. It's the ground game, that's what really counts.
LAUER: Let's talk about the images we're looking at right there. This was Wednesday, this was President Obama and Chris Christie touring some of the devastated areas. Yes, they came together for all the right reasons, to deal with a crisis. But Chris Christie was the keynote speaker at the Republican convention, he's a key ally of Mitt Romney. Did that image hurt the Romney campaign?
BROKAW: Well, I'm sure that it caused a lot of angst backstage, and I'm sure that in the Obama campaign the operatives were saying, "Yes, we've got Chris Christie at our side with these extraordinary images." But, again, both sides will say, "We now know where the votes are. We know that there are very few undecided. What we have to do is get them to the polls and on time come Tuesday."
LAUER: And as they're trying to get those people to the polls on Tuesday, they are making their closing arguments, and we know what they are now. We know that Mitt Romney is saying, "I'm the agent of change," and President Obama is saying, "You know me, you know what I'm standing for." How effective are the arguments?
BROKAW: At this point I think everybody knows the arguments. I think that the country is ready to have this election over, Matt, and they've pretty much made up their minds. So, we'll see. The – Governor Romney today is gonna have everybody but his third cousin in Ohio with him. They're gonna have an enormous push, that's all designed to get people motivated to get out at that time. The ground game, everybody acknowledges, of President Obama, which is being run out of Chicago, is very sophisticated. They have identified their groups, they know how to get in touch with them. So that's what we have to wait and see, and as Chuck [Todd] said earlier, when we get that jobs report today, if it spikes up sharply, that's what worries the Obama people more than anything else, I think, at this point.
LAUER: If the unemployment number – if the unemployment goes up?
BROKAW: Yeah, if it goes up sharply, then that's a big problem for them. If it stays about where it is, I think the country has become accustomed, this is a long slog. But if it goes up sharply, who knows? That's what makes presidential politics and Tuesday night next week for all of us not only exciting, but important for everyone to pay attention, and I do think that they are paying attention now.
LAUER: And it could be a long night. Tom Brokaw, good to see you.
BROKAW: Oh, it's not could be, it's gonna be.
LAUER: It will be.
BROKAW: Let me just say one more thing, Steve Tyler for years has been trying to get me to open for Aerosmith and I finally got the chance to do it.
LAUER: Let me say one thing, when I went out to watch them this morning, who was standing by the stage? Tom Brokaw. There you go. Enjoy the concert.
LAUER: And a programming note, this Sunday, Meet the Press will be from Democracy Plaza, right here in Rockefeller Center. David Gregory's guests will include President Obama's senior campaign advisor David Plouffe, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.