Interviewing White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy, Chris Matthews said to him: "See how much we get done when you come over here?" and "I wish we had you on every night."
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During the March 2 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews lauded White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy, exclaiming, "See how much we get done when you come over here?" On the show, Duffy offered his explanation for the apparent contradiction between recent videotapes that show administration officials warning President Bush that Hurricane Katrina posed a "grave" risk of flooding in New Orleans and the president's debunked statement, made two days after Katrina hit land, that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." At the end of the segment, Matthews said, "I wish we had you on every night."
From the March 2 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this, because I want to give you a chance -- thank you for coming over here today -- one of the things that there's a correction about -- and maybe we're being unfair about it, tell us if we are. We saw those briefings going on in that package by [MSNBC correspondent] David Shuster, where the president was being briefed by Michael Brown [former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency], and everybody was doing it. It looked like a sit[uation] room kind of a thing, and he was getting an input and he was congratulating and urging everybody to work. Good leadership, I guess. But then we heard a tape of the president three days after Katrina hit, where he said that no one anticipated that the levees would be breached. How can it be that no one anticipated it, in his words, if he was warned that it might happen?
DUFFY: Well, again, he was warned and the White House was concerned about the integrity of the levees. On the tapes and the transcripts --
DUFFY: -- you have Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin asking on August 29th , "What is the status of the levees?" And as of noon on the 29th, [Louisiana] Governor [Kathleen Babineaux] Blanco is saying we don't have any confirmation that the levees have been breached. What the president said in the aftermath of the storm was he was reflecting the collective judgment and wisdom and sentiment of just about everybody on the morning of August 30th, when New Orleans had, in fact -- had dodged somewhat of a bullet in the fact that the storm had gone 15 miles to the east.
MATTHEWS: So he was talking about that moment of relief we all shared the morning of, that we had missed a bullet.
DUFFY: That's exactly right, and, you know --
MATTHEWS: He was not saying, just to clarify the record, he was not saying that no one -- none of the experts thought that the levees might be breached.
DUFFY: He did not mean to portray that, that's exactly right.
MATTHEWS: See how much we get done when you come over here?
DUFFY: Yes, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Isn't this great?
DUFFY: But this really does go to the point -- is the reason that we knew that the levees were of issue. Any time a storm of that size is headed to New Orleans, you're thinking levees. And the White House was, and so was the president. That's why search and rescue and airlift capacity and getting helicopters in the air was the Number 1 priority, whether the levees were breached, overtopped.
MATTHEWS: I wish we had you every night. It's great to have you, Trent, deputy press secretary to the president of the United States.