NBC's Lauer Wonders if 'Tag Team' of Barack and Michelle Can Recapture '08 Mojo?

     NBC's Matt Lauer, at the top of Monday's Today show, touted the arrival of Michelle Obama on the campaign trail, as he trumpeted: "Tag team, the President and First Lady campaign together for the first time since 2008" and added that the President "pulled out his not so secret weapon at a rally in Ohio...the First Lady." Lauer, seemingly looking for any signs of hope for the Democrats, asked his colleague David Gregory if the President and First Lady's attempt to "generate some of that energy and mojo" from 2008 was working, to which Gregory responded "there's some evidence" Democrats are "getting a little bit more interested." Lauer did note that "for the last several months" the President "has become a liability for some Democratic candidates" but then asked the Meet the Press host, "Is he less of a liability with the First Lady at his side?"

As for the Republicans, Lauer continued his obsession with GOP candidates' stances on homosexuality, as he prompted Gregory to discuss Colorado Republican Senate nominee Ken Buck's response to a Gregory question on that topic on Meet the Press: "And finally let's go to this, this other interview you had yesterday, where you were talking to the Senate candidate, the Republican from Colorado, Ken Buck, and, and you asked him if homosexuality was a choice and, and he said yes. Clearly that's going to ruffle some feathers but in this year, where everybody out there says the election about three things: jobs, jobs and more jobs - is it going to have an impact?"

The following teaser and Gregory segment were aired on the October 18 Today show:

[7:00am]

MATT LAUER: Tag team, the President and First Lady campaign together for the first time since 2008 as candidates in several races square off. This morning, the heated debate that ended with a Republican refusing to shake his opponent's hand.

...

[7:09am]

LAUER: Now the runup to the midterm elections, just 15 days from right now. With Democrats fighting to hold on to power in Congress, President Obama pulled out his not so secret weapon at a rally in Ohio last night - the First Lady.

...

LAUER: David Gregory is moderator of Meet the Press, David good morning to you.

DAVID GREGORY: Hey, Matt.

LAUER: So let's talk about this Ohio image last night. We have the President and the First Lady campaigning together, first time since 2008, obviously they're looking to generate some of that energy and mojo from that previous campaign. How's it gonna go over, in your opinion?

GREGORY: Well I think there's some signs, there's some evidence that there are more Democrats around the country who are getting a little bit more interested in the race, a little bit more intense about the race around, these races around the country. And that's really what the President is trying to tap into. He's also trying to issue a warning, and you heard that from Robert Gibbs on Meet the Press yesterday. Which is to raise the specter of Republicans, particularly those associated with President Bush trying to influence the campaign, trying to take a step backward. These are the warnings, right now, that the President's issuing.

LAUER: But we, we've been hearing, for the last several months now, that the President has been become a liability to some Democratic candidates, in some regions of the country. Is he less of a liability with the First Lady at his side?

GREGORY: Yes, and it also depends where they go. You know they went to Ohio State for that rally. That's where you have younger voters, that's where you're more likely to get part of that coalition that he built back in 2008. African-Americans, younger voters, traditional pillars of the, of the Democratic Party that he can try to motivate again and say to them, "Look this is an important election. Don't sit out on the sidelines." And, again, with the First Lady, she's very popular, it does raise the, the positive images of the '08 campaign again.

LAUER: Real quickly, bringing up Robert Gibbs, you did just a second ago. Over the summer he said, he was, you know, that the Democrats might lose control of Congress. Now he's saying, on your show yesterday, he thinks actually they could hold the House and the Senate. Is it just better spin or is there a better scenario developing out there?

GREGORY: I think it's, it's a better spin more than a better scenario. I think, at this point, what matters, remember, there's early voting going on in parts of the country, in Colorado, in Illinois. They don't want to send a message from the White House that they think all is lost.

LAUER: Right.

GREGORY: They gotta get people out there to try to mitigate the damage.

LAUER: Where's the money going right now, with 15 days to go until the election? Where are the parties spending the bulk of their money.

GREGORY: Well the GOP has got a big advantage. You're gonna see them really work on getting out the vote, absentee voting, early voting. They're gonna look, in terms of the House in races, in states rather, that have four competitive races. And they'll look to some key Senate races as well - Illinois, West Virginia, Nevada, maybe even California and Washington state, where they can pump some money into.

LAUER: And finally let's go to this, this other interview you had yesterday, where you were talking to the Senate candidate, the Republican from Colorado, Ken Buck, and, and you asked him if homosexuality was a choice and, and he said yes. Clearly that's going to ruffle some feathers but in this year, where everybody out there says the election about three things: jobs, jobs and more jobs - is it going to have an impact?

GREGORY: Well I think it could only if the Democrat is successful in raising the specter of social issues, which he's trying to do, and indeed Ken Buck has taken positions that sort of, you know, raise the need to ask that kind of question to clarify his views. But I've talked to Democrats in Colorado and they say, "You know what a lot of Coloradans will talk about? Is what is the, the debt to GDP ratio?"

LAUER: Right.

GREGORY: They know that government spending is the big issue out there and that's why Senator Bennett has a big hill to climb.

LAUER: Alright David Gregory, fasten your seat belt, it's gonna be an interesting couple of weeks. David, thank you very much, we appreciate it.

GREGORY: Thanks, Matt.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.