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Notes on the September 23, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press

September 23, 2012

All rights NBC NewsIn an opening discussion of tax returns, no new ground was covered despite the release of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s 2011 forms. Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) said we should be more focused on what a President Romney would do with our taxes. Host David Gregory pushed on the tax return issue, but nether side took the bait.

Gregory then played part of the notorious “47% speech” tape from Governor Romney. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) was quite adept in her response. She said Romney was giving a “political analysis not a governing philosophy” and then pivoted to making this about the current state of the economy. Gregory showed statistics about the rise of family dependency on government benefits. Ayotte said this is not surprising since four people have left the work force for every one job created under President Barack Obama.

Gregory pushed again, with passion, on how Governor Romney’s remarks “…betrayed a lack of understanding of how the government works, of how America works.” “I fully disagree with your analysis,” Ayotte responded. She said that Governor Romney cares about every single citizen and wants upward mobility for everyone.

Throughout this exchange I could not help but wonder, why didn’t Governor Romney choose Senator Ayotte as his running mate?

There was brief talk of starting a minimum federal tax for all citizens, but Governor Patrick pulled it back to a discussion about first deciding what it is we want government to do.

I was glad to hear that the first time Senator Ayotte accused President Obama of “dividing people based on class,” Gregory pounced. “You are not really blaming the president for pitting classes against each other after Governor Romney talked about 47% of the country as freeloaders?,” Gregroy asked. Seriously, I hope we can drop the phrase (and concept) of “class warfare” from this campaign cycle following the “47% speech.”

The conversation ended with a promotion of NBC’s Education Nation week starting today. Gregory also noted that Meet The Press has a longstanding invitation for President Obama to appear on the program, just as Governor Romney did two weeks ago.

An entertaining and volatile roundtable discussion began with NBC News political director Chuck Todd running through polling numbers showing President Obama ahead in every battleground state, so far ahead in Iowa that NBC has now moved it out of the battleground column and into the blue group. He also showed a poll result saying 42% say the economy is getting better, up from 36% just a month ago.

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said this is a tough time for the Republican campaign, but he predicted Governor Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), his vice presidential running mate, will do very well in the upcoming debates. The New York Times’ columnist David Brooks recapped his “Thurston Howell Romney” column. Gregory then called on his third conservative in a row, GOP advisor Bay Buchanan, who tried to defend the “47% speech.”

Mayor Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) seemed annoyed with the conversation thus far and said Governor Romney’s remarks were terrible and this was not a case of “mischaracterization.” “Republicans have a candidate who is defective,” Reed added, and he gave a damning list of all the ways this appears to be true.

The most enjoyable part of the program was Buchanan’s breathless effort to defend Governor Romney. She constantly interrupted other speakers. Even Scarborough took her to task for her behavior.

Brooks made an appeal for the Romney campaign to go wonky. He suggested they give us four specific things they will do if elected and then explain them in detail. He reminded us that the most popular speech of the elections thus far, by former President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, was the wonkiest. People are hungry for detail.

The discussion then became even more haywire and Buchanan seemed more unhinged. At 44 minutes into the broadcast, Gregory took a commercial break. It would be very interesting to know what the off-camera conversation was like during those three minutes.

When the discussion resumed, everyone seemed to be on their best behavior. Buchanan tried to get herself worked up again, but then time ran out. Gregory brought the group back together by cheering on the Washington Nationals for clinching the National League East.

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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