For the second straight night, NBC Nightly News on Monday played the Hurricane Katrina card against Republicans, as Tropical Storm Isaac veered away from Tampa and took aim at New Orleans. Andrea Mitchell hyped that "both Republicans and Democrats...have a challenge - a political challenge here with this approaching storm, especially for the Republicans. No one here can easily forget the iconic picture of President Bush flying on Air Force One...looking down at New Orleans during Katrina." [audio available here; video below the jump]
Anchor Brian Williams also played up how the Romney family has been "forced to talk about their rightfully gained enormous wealth - having been successful in business, the garage for their cars at their home in La Jolla, California."
Williams turned to Mitchell for her take on the postponement of the Republican National Convention due to tropical storm: "Andrea...by how much have they been forced to ad lib their way through...their rundown?" The correspondent emphasized the supposed "challenge" for Republicans and evoked the "iconic" Bush picture, even as she pointed out that Vice President Biden had cancelled his plans to come to Florida and "get in the face of Republicans," as she put it.
The NBC anchor then asked "Face the Nation" host David Gregory to "talk about image," as he made his reference to Romney's "enormous wealth." Gregory cited unnamed Republicans at the convention who stated that Romney has to "show more of his heart. But there's also a recognition that he's not going to be able to beat back all of these negative images."
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt set up Chuck Todd to raise the memory of Katrina as something harmful to Republicans. Holt asked if there was "some concern about the tone of the convention, if we're seeing communities along the Gulf Coast suffering some heavy damage." Todd replied, "When you think as this storm moves to and closer to Louisiana, the specter, the sort of shadow of Bush and Katrina does hang over this convention."
The full transcript of the Andrea Mitchell/David Gregory segment from Tuesday's NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And, at this point, let's bring in the rest of our political team. David Gregory is here with us in the studio, moderator of 'Meet the Press'. And Andrea Mitchell, a veteran of many political conventions, is down on the floor of this one. Andrea, starting with you, by how much have they been forced to ad lib their way through – especially this format, their rundown?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, already, they are squeezing a lot of these speeches, and they have to deal with oversized egos, and get them down to the size of the network productions from 10 to 11 o'clock - prime time. So, they're squeezing. They've already lost a day and a half, and they know that they have to accomplish that.
But both Republicans and Democrats, we should point out, have a challenge - a political challenge here with this approaching storm, especially for the Republicans. No one here can easily forget the iconic picture of President Bush flying on Air Force One looking out the window and looking down at New Orleans during Katrina. They're not going to forget that. But Democrats also have to be sensitive, Brian. Joe Biden, the Vice President, has already canceled his plans to come to Tampa and other cities in Florida this week, and, sort of, get in the face of the Republicans. And the President, leaving tomorrow for Iowa - a three-day visit to battleground states, to college campuses - and he might have to cancel some of that as well.
WILLIAMS: All right - Andrea Mitchell on the floor. David Gregory, let's talk about image. We just saw some of it-
DAVID GREGORY: Yeah-
WILLIAMS: In Chuck Todd's setup piece. This is a family that's been forced to talk about their rightfully gained enormous wealth - having been successful in business, the garage for their cars at their home in La Jolla, California. Now, comes this, but it's part of a package they want to promote and discuss with the American people.
GREGORY: You know, Brian, I talked to Republicans, you know, on the floor here and around this convention. Giving some of himself, is something that Romney's got to do. That is the consensus. He's got to show more of his heart. But there's also a recognition that he's not going to be able to beat back all of these negative images. And, at the same time, he's not going to be able to be Mr. Inspirational. There's recognition that – the analogy I heard today was the car mechanic. You may not love him; he may not light up the room; but he can go to Washington and fix things. That, I think, is going to be the master strategy, and I think that's what Romney wants to leave people with - not just here, but the people watching at home.
WILLIAMS: All right. David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, all of whom remain in place as this thing gets under way.