Eager to declare Republican defeat in the budget showdown on Wednesday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "As John McCain said, Republicans have to understand, 'We lost this battle.' Let's put this very simply, after a shutdown that lasted 16 days, a shutdown led by House Republicans who wanted to undermine the President's new health care law, by the end of today, those Republicans may leave with little to nothing...to show for it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie used the same talking points in an interview with Republican senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Kelly Ayotte minutes later: "Some of your Republican colleagues over there [in the House] said you guys are the 'Senate surrender caucus.' Are you angry, embarrassed, frustrated?...Do they still need a reality check today? Do you agree with what Senator McCain said, which was essentially, 'This fight is lost, it's time to move on'?"
For days NBC has labeled the GOP losers in the debate. On Friday, political director Chuck Todd touted the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing the government shutdown had been an "unmitigated political disaster" for Republicans. On Monday, Guthrie told Tennessee Senator Bob Corker that the stalemate had been "absolutely devastating" for his party.
Here is a full transcript of Alexander's October 16 report:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Remember sitting here 24 hours ago, it seemed we might actually get a deal in Washington?
LAUER: You know, there was optimism, especially in the Senate. But that was so yesterday, because boy, overnight it seems everything came to a screeching halt.
GUTHRIE: And the deadline is looming ever closer of course.
LAUER: That's right. This race to end the shutdown is Today's Top Story. Let's get right to NBC's Peter Alexander at the White House. Peter, what can you tell us?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Down to the Wire; Can Congress Come Together to Strike A Deal?]
PETER ALEXANDER: Good morning to you. Most Americans are asking themselves today, is it over yet? Well, I just spoke to a top Republican Senate aide who said, quote, "optimism abounds." But this really is crunch time for Congress, now facing intense pressure to come up with a Senate deal and get it approved before midnight tonight, after House Republicans plans to try to get this thing fixed imploded.
It's down to the wire. With less than 24 hours to go, the back and forth on Capitol Hill is enough to give you whiplash. With House Republican's last-ditch efforts going nowhere, blocked again by Tea Party conservatives, Senate leaders are back at the negotiating table.
SEN. HARRY REID [D-SENATE MAJORITY LEADER]: The deadline is looming.
ALEXANDER: Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell sending out nearly identical statements overnight, insisting they're "optimistic" an agreement can be reached. "It's basically done," one Democratic aide said.
Among those helping end this mess, a bipartisan sisterhood of the Senate, including senators Collins, Ayotte, Murkowski, Shaheen, and Klobuchar, who put problem solving over partisanship.
Still, after more than two weeks wasted, Congress needs to move fast. Already the U.S.'s near perfect rating is in danger, with Fitch, one of the major agencies that grades a nation's financial strength, warning investors that America may not be able to pay what it owes, blaming D.C.'s dysfunction. "Political brinkmanship could increase the risk of a U.S. default."
ALEXANDER [TO HOUSE DEMOCRATS AT PRESS CONFERENCE]: What should Americans be bracing for when they wake up on October 17th? They may not witness changes overnight.
REP. NANCY PELOSI [D-HOUSE MINORITY LEADER]: Please, I mean, we're talking about something so catastrophic.
ALEXANDER: An expert said failing to extend the country's ability to borrow by tonight's deadline is like driving your car into the desert on empty and then intentionally blowing past the only gas station in sight.
MARK PATTERSON [FORMER TREASURY DEPT. CHIEF OF STAFF]: Your car's not going to explode, but what's gonna happen is you'll run out of gas sooner or later and then very bad things will happen to you out in the desert.
ALEXANDER: As John McCain said, Republicans have to understand, "We lost this battle." Let's put this very simply, after a shutdown that lasted 16 days, a shutdown led by House Republicans who wanted to undermine the President's new health care law, by the end of today, those Republicans may leave with little to nothing, Matt and Savannah, to show for it.
LAUER: Alright, Peter Alexander at the White House. Peter, thanks very much.