NBC's Todd: GOP 'Begging the Media to Say It's Obama That Started the Sequester'

After dismissing the argument that President Obama was to blame for the sequester as "dumb" on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, NBC political director Chuck Todd further mocked the notion on Friday's program: "Republicans have been playing, well, an inside game, the inside the Beltway game, trying to build support for their position against the cuts and begging the media to say it's Obama that started the sequester, not them." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Earlier in the show, Todd gleefully touted: "The White House PR campaign meanwhile, has depended on local headlines...on sequester being bad enough to apply political pressure on Republican lawmakers at home." After playing a clip of Republican Virginia Congressman Scott Riggell doing an interview with Newport News NBC affiliate WAVY about the budget cuts, Todd eagerly pointed out: "...look at what they're describing it as. The local reporter described it as 'the monster that is sequestration.'"

Todd pointed a finger of blame squarely at conservatives: "The automatic cuts are going to take place, at least in the short-term. The reasoning we've heard from both Democrats and Republicans is simply Republicans need the sequester to go through in order to show to the base that they're willing to fight the President."


Here is a portion of Todd's February 22 sequester coverage:



9:05AM ET

CHUCK TODD: Some Republican governors have complained about the impact defense and domestic cuts are going to have in their home states. For instance, Virginia's Bob McDonnell wrote a letter to the President this week, sounding the alarm about "the potential devastation that looming cuts to defense due to sequestration will have on national security and on the economic well-being of the citizens of the commonwealth."

The White House PR campaign meanwhile, has depended on local headlines like that and others on sequester being bad enough to apply political pressure on Republican lawmakers at home. And next week, they're going after what appears to be a final pressure point, the defense cuts that are coming in Republican districts. On Monday, the President heads to Virginia to visit Newport News ship building, to highlight the impact that sequester will have if it isn't stopped, hoping to apply pressure to members of Congress, like, oh say, Virginia Republican Scott Riggell.

SCOTT RIGGELL [REP. R-VA]: This is not a theoretical problem like it is up in Washington. This is reality.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And the reality is Congressman Riggell is one of the members of Congress that voted for the Balanced Budget Act that created the monster now known as sequestration.

RIGGELL: The ramifications of it are already rippling through our local economy and our defense readiness, and really across the country.

TODD: WAVY, that's Newport News, that's the Norfolk area, WAVY, look at what they're describing it as. The local reporter described it as "the monster that is sequestration."

Here's something everyone should brace for. The automatic cuts are going to take place, at least in the short-term. The reasoning we've heard from both Democrats and Republicans is simply Republicans need the sequester to go through in order to show to the base that they're willing to fight the President.

And though the President called House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Leader – Republican Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday, it was clear that both sides are already positioning for what is the next round of budget negotiations over the all-around budget resolution to keep the government funded and the political fallout when the sequester does eventually take place.

The President diagnosed the other party's problems rather than suggesting solutions, interestingly enough, in an interview with Al Sharpton.

BARACK OBAMA: Their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations. And they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes. And that's the thing that binds their party together at this point.

TODD: And in another interview with radio host Joe Madison, the President acknowledged that he expects the cuts will likely go into effect.

OBAMA: In terms of what your listenership can do, obviously just insisting to their members of Congress, especially if they live in a Republican district, that this is a really bad idea. But I'll be honest with you right now, it's not clear to me that the Republicans are going to agree to turn the sequester off despite the fact that 75% of the American people agree with me, in terms of the approach, and disagree with them.

(...)

9:45AM ET

TODD: Alright, the President has been using his outside game to sell his position on sequester, talking to local TV affiliates, and there's radio shows, surrounding himself with first responders. Meanwhile Republicans have been playing, well, an inside game, the inside the Beltway game, trying to build support for their position against the cuts and begging the media to say it's Obama that started the sequester, not them.

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