After NBC News spent a week hyping President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy as a major boon for his re-election campaign, on Thursday's Today, political director Chuck Todd completely dismissed Republicans citing the event as one reason for Mitt Romney's defeat: "Believe it or not, that Sandy finger-pointing is something that is being pushed around...when you look at the entire scope of this election and the demographics...it's a pretty absurd idea."
Moments later, co-host Matt Lauer grilled former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on some in the GOP being critical of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praising Obama's handling of the storm. Barbour explained: "Hurricane Sandy saved Barack Obama's presidency....But that's not Chris Christie's fault. Now, I do think the news media made a much bigger deal out of it, that made it sound like Christie was almost endorsing Obama. All Christie said was, is the President's trying to be a good partner."
Backing up Barbour's observation, from the day the storm hit on October 29, through the week that followed, a long list of NBC News hosts and reporters pushed Sandy as a big political win for Obama:
Morning Joe Duo: Hurricane Will Halt Romney’s Momentum, Make Obama Look Presidential
NBC: Obama Shows 'Empathetic Side' After Sandy; Romney 'Trying to Balance' Storm and Campaign
NBC Touts Bloomberg Helping Obama, Wonders if Christie Hurting Romney
NBC's Gregory Gushes Over 'Indelible Images' of Obama During Sandy; Is it an 'October Surprise'?
Here is a portion of Todd's November 8 report:
CHUCK TODD: Meanwhile, Romney's loss has prompted hang-wringing and a blame game among Republicans.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012: The Fallout; GOP Infighting Over Why Romney Lost Election]
CHARLIE COOK: I think it's going to be a circular firing squad for the next six months in the Republican Party.
TODD: Exit polls showed Republicans lost by a wide margin among Latinos, African-Americans, Asian Americans, and women.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Don't tell me the Republican Party doesn't have outreach, we do. But what are we supposed to do now? Are we supposed to – in order to get the Hispanic or Latino vote, does that mean open the borders and embrace the illegals? If we're not getting the female vote, do we become pro-choice? Do we start passing out birth control pills? Is that what we have to do?
COOK: If the Republican Party were a business, you would say that they have a flawed business model for the future.
TODD: And there are even a few Republicans quietly pointing a finger at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for praising the President's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last week.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: My activity with President Obama was just another chapter in the leadership I've tried to show in this state, which is people care more about getting things done than they care about partisanship. And I'm going to continue to conduct myself that way.
TODD: Believe it or not, that Sandy finger-pointing is something that is being pushed around, this idea among a lot of Republicans, particularly close to the Romney campaign. But I'll tell you, when you look at the entire scope of this election and the demographics, Matt, it's a pretty absurd idea. This was almost exclusively about demographics.
Here is a portion of Lauer's November 8 exchange with Barbour:
MATT LAUER: Let me do this before I let you go, I really do want to get your take, because I think you have a very interesting perspective. You were governor of Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina comes – came through. You know what you had to do in terms of working with the federal government. A lot of heat on Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, for being seen touring his state with President Obama and praising his leadership. In your opinion, did Governor Christie break some unwritten rule?
HALEY BARBOUR: Look, the Governor, whether it's governor of Mississippi or New Jersey, is supposed to do what's in the best interest of his state and his people. And when you have a big disaster like this, a governor knows that – not for the next few weeks or months, but for years – the federal government's going to be their partner. You know, it's very interesting to me, when I didn't criticize George Bush after Katrina, the press attacked me for not criticizing, saying I was partisan. I did just exactly what Chris Christie did, in this sense, I was taught criticize in private – praise in public, but criticize in private. And besides that, the federal government did a whole lot more right than wrong. For Christie and for New Jersey, their relationship with the federal government is just starting.
LAUER: So Chris Christie should not be held to blame for any part of this election loss on Mitt Romney in your opinion?
BARBOUR: Hurricane Sandy saved Barack Obama's presidency. It broke – it broke the momentum that Romney had coming in at the end of October. But that's not Chris Christie's fault. Now, I do think the news media made a much bigger deal out of it, that made it sound like Christie was almost endorsing Obama. All Christie said was, is the President's trying to be a good partner.
LAUER: Governor Haley Barbour, it's nice to have you here, sir. I really appreciate your time this morning.
BARBOUR: Thank you, Matt.