Pivoting off the Chris Lee resignation story NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Friday's Today show, declared it was a "rough week for the Republicans" noting that "they've seen several of their bills defeated in the House." Vieira, who was joined by David Gregory, also questioned "How big of a setback is this for the party?" Gregory, for his part, did at least acknowledge the reason some of the bills were defeated was because freshmen Republicans were actually keeping to their campaign promises but then went on to note the GOP had "a lot more cohesion" when they were in the minority.
The following segment was aired on the February 11 Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Ann, thank you very much. David Gregory is the moderator of Meet the Press. Good morning to you David.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning.
VIEIRA: It has been a rough, rough week for the Republicans, to say the very least. Besides the resignation of Congressman Lee, they've seen several of their bills defeated in the House, where they now hold the majority. How big of a setback is this for the party? And what do they do to get back on solid ground here?
GREGORY: Well I think the roughest part of it is that they made a promise in the course of the election to cut $100 billion of non-discretionary spending, a part of the budget that, that is away from the big four like defense spending and Medicare and Social Security. And then they came in and said, "Well, we are not going to be able to keep that pledge." And there were a lot of reasons why, none of which were flying with their own members. So a lot of these freshmen Republicans came in and said, "Wait a minute. We made a promise. We gotta keep the promise." They've had to adjust and make those adjustments very publicly as well as dealing with the controversy like this. So it just shows you that they have a lot more cohesion on the campaign trail and in the minority than in they did in the majority.
VIEIRA: So what do they do, at this point, going forward?
GREGORY: Well they have gone back. Speaker Boehner and other leaders have gone back and said, "Well we will get to $100 billion figure, but it's gonna be painful." That's really the issue here. How painful are those cuts going be and can they possibly get agreement on the Senate side to do it? So we're gonna be set here for a big battle over the budget. And that's the budget going forward. What they're talking about is the budget just for the rest of this fiscal year. It gets complicated, the budget math of Washington. But what it means is the fights are gonna be even more intense than we had thought and, oh, yeah, there is also this huge fight looming over raising the budget ceiling, the debt ceiling for the country because we're gonna need more money.
VIEIRA: Yeah also David, by this time in the last election cycle we'd already seen several candidates announcing that they were running for president. We've seen no one so far. Why do you think that is?
GREGORY: I think it's related, in this way. A lot of Republicans who are shaping up this 2012 field are hanging back a little bit. They want to see how some of these fights play out between the Tea Party faction in the House and other new members of Congress and see how that jockeying goes. Because they know that this populist strain of the Republican Party is going to a big part of the primary fight for them. That's reason number one. Reason number two, you get out too early, you become a declared candidate, even a front runner, you become a target. And in this media environment I think they want to hold back on that.
VIEIRA: Alright David Gregory, as always, thank you very much.
GREGORY: Thanks, Meredith.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here