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Notes from the May 1, 2011 broadcast of Meet The Press

May 1, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, Meet The Press began an occasional closing segment called “Trends and Takeaways.” It is an attempt to capture and examine news made during the actual broadcast. They did not have that segment today, but if they did, the “takeaway” from today’s show would be: Everyone wants the media to stop talking about the birth certificate and Donald Trump.

I know the president delivered that message pretty clearly in his press conference earlier this week, but it still apparently hasn’t sunk in to Washington, DC. Every person MTP host David Gregory tried to raise these issues with today waved him off or changed the subject.

David Axelrod (now from the Obama 2012 campaign) reminded Gregory that these issues are media creations (and left unsaid “…and here you are doing it again.”)

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (Independent), when asked about the Trump candidacy, instead answered with an eloquent statement about how we can seriously attack the problems facing the federal government.

Similarly, Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) would not take the bait. And when Gregory tried to raise all of this with Senator Marc Rubio (R-FL), Rubio said he would prefer to talk about things on “Planet Earth.”

Perhaps most damning, when Gregory tried to link the birther issue with racism, Axelrod said that was not a “worthy question” and refused to discuss it.

Not surprisingly, the only guest who engaged on any of this was Saturday Night Live Head Writer Seth Meyers who acknowledged the comedic potential of a Trump candidacy.

Back to the real issues… Bloomberg said we still aren’t at a place in the economic recovery where business and governments feel comfortable hiring new people. But there are bright spots in the economy. He said, this could be a good time to buy a house, for example.

Bloomberg said Democrats must know you can’t balance the budget without serious changes to entitlement plans. And Republicans must know you can’t balance the budget with only spending cuts. We need a balance of spending cuts and tax increases.

Gov. McDonnell tried to promote Virginia’s efforts to balance the state’s budget, and Axelrod poked a few holes in that story.

Senator Rubio speaks very, very quickly. I thought I had the DVR on 2X for a moment. When asked about raising the debt ceiling, he got off a good line. By slowing the tape down, I was able to get the quote: “I marvel at how people in this town run around with their hair on fire because of the potential for a technical default because we don’t raise the debt limit. But they don’t seem that overly concerned about a real default where we are not paying our debt obligations because we don’t have the money.”

For Medicare, Rubio wants a plan that saves the program, doesn’t impact current seniors, and doesn’t hurt economic growth. He likes the Paul Ryan plan, but can’t explain how it will “save” Medicare… at least when it is currently defined as a health guarantee program, not a health insurance voucher program.

Rubio talks a lot about the unacceptable potential for Medicare to go bankrupt. But so far no journalist I see has asked him, “Yes, but what if we all decided we like the current Medicare system and agree to give it more money (but cutting elsewhere)? Then it wouldn’t go bankrupt, right?”

Rubio rules out, in pretty strong terms, being the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. On Libya, Rubio said the worst outcome would be for Gadaffi to stay in power. He says Gadaffi should simply leave now.

The show closed with the Seth Meyers interview (taped Saturday). Meyers was the featured speaker at last night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. They played some clips, and my favorite line was Meyers talking about the weak GOP 2012 field. He said, “I can tell you who could definitely beat you Mr. President: 2008 Barack Obama. You would have loved him.”

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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