NBC: 'Once Heralded as the Anti-George Bush,' Obama Receives 'Muted Reception' in Europe

On Monday's NBC Nightly News, reporting on President Obama's trip to Europe, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd fretted over the commander-in-chief's declining popularity overseas: "Obama comes to this [G-8] summit...to a much more muted reception than in the past. Once heralded as the anti-George Bush...now he's on the defensive over U.S. policies, including some he's kept in place from the Bush era." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Todd listed some of the ways in which Obama hasn't been liberal enough for European sensibilities: "The NSA surveillance programs,  widely panned on this privacy-conscious continent. The failure to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, his hesitancy to engage in Syria, and a perceived lack of focus on climate change."

Reassuring viewers, Todd noted: "Still, the President today in Belfast tried to recapture some of his European popularity, using an old stump speech staple." A sound bite played of Obama telling an audience of students: "When it comes to the future we share, that fills me with hope. Young people fill me with hope."


Here is a full transcript of Todd's June 17 report:

7:04PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The other issue getting a lot of attention at that G-8 Summit today, the civil war in Syria, with the U.S. and six other countries on one side of the conflict and Russia on the other. And you could see it in the body language. Our chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd is traveling with the President in Northern Ireland tonight.

CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. When leaders of the world's largest democracies gather, they usually focus on the global economy. But this year's meeting comes at a precarious time in the Syrian civil war. Seven of the G-8 countries are on one side, country number eight, Russia, on the other.

Arriving today at a golf retreat in Northern Ireland, President Obama had to leave his clubs stateside and immediately get down to business. Tops on his agenda, finding common ground with Russia on the issue of Syria. But while today was no Cold War confrontation, both leaders admitted they disagreed on how to deal with Syria. But Putin went out of his way to endorse the idea of a negotiated settlement.

BARACK OBAMA: We do have differing perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in reducing the violence, securing chemical weapons.

VLADIMIR: All of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria, to stop the growth of victims, and to solve the situation peacefully, including by bringing the parties to the negotiation table in Geneva.

TODD: Putin's words today were decidedly more measured than yesterday, when he met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, referring to a graphic video of one Syrian rebel.

PUTIN: One hardly should back those who kills their enemies and eat their organs.

TODD: President Obama comes to this summit, his first trip to Europe since winning re-election, to a much more muted reception than in the past. Once heralded as the anti-George Bush, Europeans even gave Mr. Obama a Nobel Peace Prize, now he's on the defensive over U.S. policies, including some he's kept in place from the Bush era. The NSA surveillance programs,  widely panned on this privacy-conscious continent. The failure to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, his hesitancy to engage in Syria, and a perceived lack of focus on climate change. Still, the President today in Belfast tried to recapture some of his European popularity, using an old stump speech staple.

OBAMA: When it comes to the future we share, that fills me with hope. Young people fill me with hope.

TODD: Mr. Obama came here to initiate a regional trade agreement with Europe. But those talks are now complicated thanks to European doubts about whether they can even trust the Americans in the wake of the NSA spying controversy. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd in Northern Ireland tonight. Chuck, thanks.

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