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Notes on the August 26, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press

August 26, 2012

All rights NBC NewsSenator John McCain (R-AZ) has appeared on Meet The Press more than any other person in history, but these days it is hard to understand why. He is a true American hero, but he rarely offers anything insightful on these programs. Today was no different. In fact, the satellite system itself seemed to be saying, “Let’s get this over with so we can hear Jeb Bush.” The feed from Tampa was lost ten minutes into the broadcast, leaving McCain all alone until a quick jump to commercial.

Next up, former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) said the choice of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the running mate for Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) will make this election about “big things,” and he says this has already started. When asked about abortion, Bush says Republicans need to stay focused on a message of “sustained economic growth.”

Regarding Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) and his controversial comments, Bush said, “The reason he was asked to consider leaving doesn’t relate to this views on the life question. It is related to his misguided views about rape. So totally different subject.”

Education is Bush’s topic for this convention. “If (only) one third of our kids are college or career ready by 12th grade, that is a tragedy. Because there is no government program that could ever fill that void.”

Bush predicted that as President Barack Obama continues his negative campaigning, his likeability numbers will go down. And Bush says the economy will be the issue that tips the scales in Florida’s presidential election vote.

Bush expressed his personal support for an immigration policy that allows people to stay here if they have earned a Ph.D or masters degree, so they “…can become the next generation of entrepreneurs.” In fact, he seems uncomfortable with what both Republicans and Democrats are saying and doing about immigration reform and does not think it should be used as a political wedge issue. He also seems OK with discussing ways for the government to raise additional revenues through things like increasing what some people pay into the Medicare program.

Host David Gregory mentioned that Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, declined to run for the White House in this cycle even though many people thought it was his time. He pointed out that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is billing their Republican National Convention coverage as “The Road to Jeb Bush 2016.” Bush responded by saying that Romney is a great guy. “I look forward to working on his re-election in 2016 and making Jon Stewart awfully upset during that period of time.”

(Note: There were also technical issues during the Bush interview. The lighting on Gregory was great. But the lighting on Bush was horrible. Unlike the earlier glitch, this was not caused by the demands of live television. The Bush interview was taped a few days ago, and anyone could have stopped the taping to reset the lights.)

In the roundtable, NBC’s Chuck Todd said party officials are discussing how a “tone change” in the convention may be needed (in addition to the schedule change) to accommodate the hurricane.

Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said all the talk in Tampa about how the convention will “re-introduce” Romney to the country makes it sound like this will be an “Etch-a-Sketch moment.”

Todd predicts there will be no bounce in the poll numbers for either candidate after the conventions. GOP strategist Mike Murphy predicts both conventions will be about Romney: One about building him up and another tearing him down (since Democrats can’t talk about their own record, according to Murphy).

On Akins, Murphy said, “Everyone in the party except Eisenhower has called on him to get out, and that is only because Ike isn’t with us anymore.”

Todd said, “Ryan’s first name is ‘Congressman,'” and given the lowest poll numbers ever for Congress, it means the campaign took on a lot of baggage when they chose him as the running mate.

(Note 2: This broadcast included four Republican officials and one Democrat. That is probably OK as a preview of the Republican National Convention, but I hope the balance is the same when the program previews the Democratic National Convention in a couple of weeks.)

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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