NBC: Romney Must 'Backtrack' From the Right, But Obama Will Suffer 'Damage' If He Steps Back From the Left

Talking to Meet the Press host David Gregory on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry pushed for Mitt Romney to move away from conservatives: "...does he have to work really hard now to backtrack off of some of his positions in the past, as he was trying to win the primary...?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In a stunning double standard, in her very next question, Curry fretted about President Obama distancing himself from Vice President Biden's support of gay marriage: "There's been some backtracking, it seems, by the White House. Is it possible that the White House could cause itself some damage in backtracking too much off of this?"

In response to Curry's question about Romney, Gregory replied: "You know in a hard-fought primary campaign, a lot of negative ads. That negativity washed onto him. And he's got to turn that around, there's a reintroduction going on by Romney to the American people about what his experience is, what his attributes are."

In response to Curry's worry about Obama's stand on gay marriage, Gregory fully accepted the President's cynical political posturing: "Certainly it's going to be difficult to try to walk that back now. And the reality is for the Vice President and the President, there is a widespread expectation that if there is a second Obama term, that they will look at same-sex marriage again, and perhaps, the expectation is, come around to fully supporting it, but not before re-election, is the feeling."

Curry began the discussion by wondering how Obama could counter Romney asking voters if they were better off after the President's first term. Gregory helpfully outlined the White House argument: "The message is 'Hang in there, the hole is so big, we're coming out of it,' and the more people like the President, and we see this in polling, that he's likable, the better chance, perhaps, he has to persuade them to stick with him. But, he's got to really try to make Romney an unacceptable alternative. And that effort is underway, as well."


Here is a full transcript of the May 7 exchange:

7:14AM ET

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

DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Ann.

CURRY: So as we just heard Chuck [Todd] reporting, the – the Romney campaign seems to be thinking if it just asks the question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?," that it could have a good chance of winning. But what do you think about the President's response to that, that things are getting better but we're not there yet? How's that going to hold up in the face of that powerful message?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Obama Kicks Into Full Campaign Mode]

GREGORY: Well, it's going to be a contest. Because if it is a referendum on the President's leadership it's a problem for the President when you see weak economic recovery. What the President is getting at is who's got the vision? Who's got the vision for the future of economic recovery? The message is "Hang in there, the hole is so big, we're coming out of it," and the more people like the President, and we see this in polling, that he's likable, the better chance, perhaps, he has to persuade them to stick with him. But, he's got to really try to make Romney an unacceptable alternative. And that effort is underway, as well.

CURRY: Clearly they're trying to frame each other. On the question of Romney and wooing independents, does he have to work really hard now to backtrack off of some of his positions in the past, as he was trying to win the primary, or, or is it enough for him to simply be trying to take down President Obama?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Obama vs. Romney: What Are The Campaign Tactics?]

GREGORY: Well, what he's going to do is try to build up some of the positive aspects of himself as a candidate. You know in a hard-fought primary campaign, a lot of negative ads. That negativity washed onto him. And he's got to turn that around, there's a reintroduction going on by Romney to the American people about what his experience is, what his attributes are. But you're right, he wants to keep that attention on the President's record, and present himself as a reasonable alternative. It's not easy to take down an incumbent as they're going for re-election but that's the argument he'll make.

CURRY: And I want to ask you a little bit about the news that was made on your broadcast on Sunday when the Vice President talked about gay marriage, he said he was absolutely comfortable with gay couples who marry receiving the same civil rights and liberties as heterosexual couples. There's been some backtracking, it seems, by the White House. Is it possible that the White House could cause itself some damage in backtracking too much off of this?

GREGORY: The reality is that the Vice President, on the program yesterday, went farther than he's ever gone. He had been opposed to same-sex marriage. The President, in talking about himself, had talked about his views evolving. Clearly the Vice President's views have evolved. He, in effect, endorsed same-sex marriage but saying that he doesn't set policy, that would be a decision for the President to make. Certainly it's going to be difficult to try to walk that back now. And the reality is for the Vice President and the President, there is a widespread expectation that if there is a second Obama term, that they will look at same-sex marriage again, and perhaps, the expectation is, come around to fully supporting it, but not before re-election, is the feeling.

CURRY: Alright, David Gregory. Always great to talk to you. Thanks so much.

GREGORY: Thanks, Ann.

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