To kick off coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, "Today" host Matt Lauer actually posed some challenging questions to Barack Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs. The NBC host cited examples of newly minted vice presidential candidate Joe Biden praising John McCain's leadership and pointedly asked, "So, now, if Joe Biden goes on the attack against John McCain, isn't he going to come off sounding like just another politician who will do and say anything to get elected?"
Referring to reports that Biden has been warned to stay on message and not go off on verbose tangents, Lauer quizzed, "Can you take me through that warning? Who had the talk with Joe Biden?" After not getting an actual answer from Gibbs, he followed-up: "Well, but as communications director, it's your job to manage the message now coming out of both of these candidates, so wouldn't you have been involved in that discussion?"
Of course, the morning program did feature some typical examples of liberal talking points. A segment with reporter Ann Curry highlighted a clip of liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin discussing Barack Obama's speech and spinning, "He's still not that well known in parts of the country and because he [Obama] has been caricatured by the other side, his speech is probably more important than most acceptance speeches are."
Speaking of talking points, Curry exclaimed that Obama "will take his central message of change you can believe in to more than 70,000 at Invesco field."
In second segment, reporter David Gregory discussed the Biden choice and parroted an argument sure to become a favorite of the Obama team: "Obama insiders fend off Washington insider charges, noting that Biden never moved to Washington, choosing instead to commute home by train each night."
A transcript of the Robert Gibbs interview, which aired at 7:09am on the August 25 edition of "Today," follows:
MATT LAUER: Robert Gibbs is Senator Obama's communications director. Hi, Robert. Good morning to you.
ROBERT GIBBS (Barack Obama Communications director): Good morning. How are you?
LAUER: I'm doing well, thanks. Let's talk about this potential negative of Joe Biden and that is this history where he tends to talk and speak his mind and perhaps even talk too much. He's admitted it himself. And in David's piece there, we said that he has now been warned by the Obama camp to keep it on message. Can you take me through that warning? Who had the talk with Joe Biden?
GIBBS: You know, I don't know who had that talk. I know he's an outspoken advocate for the things that he believes in. Senator Obama wanted somebody that would give him unvarnished advice. We think that Senator Biden is a wonderful pick. He said he's a passionate advocate for the middle class and he's not going to be stop being that as our vice presidential nominee and we're happy to have him.
LAUER: Well, but as communications director, it's your job to manage the message now coming out of both of these candidates, so wouldn't you have been involved in that discussion?
GIBBS: Well, look, I don't know who had or if there was a discussion had. All I know is I think we have got a very strong ticket, one that's going to help bring about the change we need, because, Matt, quite simply, we can't afford four more years of the same George Bush policies that we have that have led this country in the wrong direction. I think you have got a dynamic team of Barack Obama and Joe Biden who can do that.
LAUER: Lets talk-- Let's talk about John McCain. Biden and McCain go way back. They both served in the Senate for decades. They're friends. They have traveled together. In 2004, Biden said this about McCain: "I would be honored to run with or against John McCain because I think the country would be better off." In 2004, Robert, he even suggested that McCain would make a great running mate for then-candidate John Kerry as a vice presidential candidate. So, now, if Joe Biden goes on the attack against John McCain, isn't he going to come off sounding like just another politician who will do and say anything to get elected?
GIBBS: Well, Matt, I think the John McCain that America has seen over the past few months is not the John McCain that most of America thought they saw in 2000. As Senator Biden said, you can't bring change to this country if you're voting with George Bush 95 percent of the time. That's not the change we need, that's not going to bring our economy back or restore our image in America or make us less dependent on foreign oil. We have got to make a break with the Bush/Cheney years, a break with the Bush/McCain years to get the change we need, point our country back in the right direction and put our economy back on track.
LAUER: Let me talk about someone else who is going to get a lot of attention over the next several days out there in Denver and that is Hillary Clinton. According to a recent survey, some 30 percent of her loyal supporters say that they will now either vote for John McCain, somebody else or nobody. Now, this seems to be much more than just your run of the mill primary season hangover, doesn't it, Robert?
GIBBS: Well, look, I think there are a lot of delegates here who had passionate choices in an extended primary season that we all had a chance to be involved in and cover. But, look, if you're a delegate here and you want better health care or better schools or you want to make sure your family doesn't struggle with their mortgage payments and has good jobs, there's only one candidate in this race. The one candidate that Hillary Clinton is supporting is Barack Obama. We feel confident that if we can demonstrate a record of change, a record of vision and a team of Barack Obama and Joe Biden can convince Democrats, Republicans and independents to support a ticket for change in November.
LAUER: Real quickly though. To finally heal those wounds, if it's possible, is Barack Obama going to have to dedicate a substantial portion of his speech on Thursday night on the floor of that convention to Hillary Clinton?
GIBBS: Well, look, I think he'll laud Senator Clinton for being a passionate advocate for working families. There's no doubt about it that. The issues that he'll talk about on Thursday will be the issues that both of them talked about for the past 19 months and there's no question, you know, Hillary Clinton has looked at both John McCain and Barack Obama and she's decided that Barack Obama is her choice to be the next president of the United States.
LAUER: Robert Gibbs, coming to us from Denver this morning, Robert, thanks for getting up early, I appreciate it.