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Notes on Meet The Press Broadcast, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011

Today’s broadcast featured Savannah Guthrie, longtime NBC correspondent and new member of the Today Show family, as the substitute Meet The Press host. More about her later.

First in the hot seat today was former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, now an adviser to the Obama 2012 campaign. Guthrie pushed him really hard on what President Obama can do to convince people he knows how to fix the economy. Gibbs kept up a sunny smile, but he was clearly on the ropes after Guthrie hit him 3 or 4 times.

Guthrie asked why doesn’t the president just put out plans he thinks will work rather than “pre-settling” for what he thinks can get through Congress. Gibbs’ answer criticized Congress but did not really come close to answering Guthrie’s question.

Gibbs defended the president’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation saying the modern presidency travels with the president. But he did not have a good answer for the perception issue.

Given the opportunity, Gibbs shared his concerns about the political records of Governors Rick Perry (R-TX) and Mitt Romney (R-MA).

Next up was Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) who said “several” of the current GOP presidential candidates could be president, and he will campaign for whoever emerges from the field.

Regarding Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Daniels likes him but would not encourage him to enter the race.

Daniels said Perry’s use of the word “treason” to describe a policy difference with Fed Chairman Ben Bernake was “unfortunate,” but he added the point Perry was making about the Federal Reserve is valid. The roundtable later agreed that Perry’s comment was toxic.

Today’s roundtable also agreed that the GOP is still looking for more candidates to enter the presidential race. Most mentioned were Ryan, Sarah Palin (R-AK), and Chris Christie (R-NJ).

Other points of agreement: If the president has a jobs plan, he should release it. If presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) has a plan to get gasoline prices down below $2 a gallon, she should release it.

The biggest story of today’s broadcast was the sparkling and masterful hosting of Savannah Guthrie. She seemed very much in control of the room and the conversations. She pushed hard on both Gibbs and Daniels. She used the term “pre-settled” a couple of times when discussing the president’s negotiating habits, and I like this sharp edge she brings to the dialogue.

On the other hand, she had a funny, lighthearted exchange with Peggy Noonan. And then when talking about the books President Obama bought on vacation, she pulled out a stack of those books, passed them out to the panelists, and said they all owed her a book report. It was a nice, humorous moment appropriate to the season. And it put a nice capstone on a deftly handled broadcast. Did we see a star born this morning?

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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