After lamenting absence of debate on "fundamental issues," Lauer asked Clinton only about the race

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On the April 15 edition of Today, Matt Lauer asserted, "It's been a long time since an actual vote was cast in this primary season, a long time since we've debated actual fundamental issues. We've had a lot of sniping and second-guessing." Yet in an April 23 interview on Today with Sen. Hillary Clinton, Lauer discussed only the state of the Democratic presidential primary race, not any "actual fundamental issues."

On the April 15 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer asserted, "It's been a long time since an actual vote was cast in this primary season, a long time since we've debated actual fundamental issues. We've had a lot of sniping and second-guessing." Yet in an April 23 interview on Today with Sen. Hillary Clinton -- Lauer's first interview with a presidential candidate since making the assertion -- Lauer did not bring up any "actual fundamental issues." Rather, Lauer's questions to Clinton included:

  • "Have you gained enough in terms of delegates and the popular vote to still have a realistic chance of winning this nomination?"
  • "When you say you've gotten more votes now, you are counting the results that are -- that are really unofficial on the Democratic side from Florida and Michigan, correct?"
  • "So is your argument now that the candidate at the end of all this who wins the popular vote should be the nominee?"

Lauer also asked Clinton about the tone of the campaign and exit polling in Pennsylvania.

Lauer made his assertion that it's been "a long time since we've debated actual fundamental issues" during an April 15 discussion with Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). During the segment, Casey said, "People want to hear about the issues in Pennsylvania. We've got too many people in our state that don't have health insurance. I think they want to hear about solutions for the economy in Pennsylvania." Lauer responded, "Let's talk about the polls in Pennsylvania right now."

From the April 15 edition of NBC's Today:

LAUER: Pennsylvania's governor, Ed Rendell, is a Hillary Clinton backer, while Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is supporting Barack Obama -- guys, good morning to both of you.

RENDELL: Good morning.

CASEY: Good morning, Matt.

LAUER: Governor, let's start with you. It's been a long time since an actual vote was cast in this primary season, a long time since we've debated actual fundamental issues. We've had a lot of sniping and second-guessing. Big winner: John McCain in this process right now?

[...]

CASEY: Well, I guess, if I were in the same position John McCain is in right now, where he has to defend the president's record on a war without end, defend a $10 trillion debt, and defend a third -- really what he's running for seems to be a third term for President Bush, maybe I'd be attacking Barack Obama, too. But it's not going to work here, and I think it's unusual where you see both John McCain and a Democrat -- and several Democrats teaming up to go after Barack Obama. People want to hear about the issues in Pennsylvania. We've got too many people in our state --

LAUER: Right.

CASEY: -- that don't have health insurance. I think they want to hear about solutions for the economy in Pennsylvania.

LAUER: Let's talk about the polls in Pennsylvania right now. Governor, I'll start with you. They go anywhere from 20 points up for Hillary Clinton to four points up. I mean, they vary wildly. Do you see a scenario, Governor, in which Hillary Clinton either loses in Pennsylvania or wins by only a razor-thin margin where she is simply going to be forced to call it quits?

From the April 23 edition of Today:

LAUER: In the days and weeks prior to the Pennsylvania primary, as you know, the pundits were all saying that you needed at least a double-digit victory to at least make the argument for continuing in this race. It looks like it's going to be 10 percentage points. You said, "The tide is turning." Is the tide really turning, though? Have you gained enough in terms of delegates and the popular vote to still have a realistic chance of winning this nomination?

[...]

LAUER: But in terms of continuing in this primary race, mathematically speaking, can you win?

[...]

LAUER: We've done the math here, and it looks at the -- at the end of this whole primary process, Senator Obama is going to have the most elected delegates. Last night on MSNBC, your campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, suggested that the more important standard is the popular vote. So is your argument now that the candidate at the end of all this who wins the popular vote should be the nominee?

[...]

LAUER: Let me just mention. When you say you've gotten more votes now, you are counting the results that are -- that are really unofficial on the Democratic side from Florida and Michigan, correct?

[...]

LAUER: Let me -- let me ask you about the tone of this campaign, that -- that it's taken a very negative tone in the recent weeks. Here's what you said recently about that: "I think we've run a very positive campaign. I regret that especially since the debate Senator Obama has chosen to go so negative, and contrary to what he says in his speeches, his campaign has certainly done this. Let me read you something from this morning's editorial in The New York Times. This is your hometown newspaper. They endorsed you in January. And they say, quote, "It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity for which she is mostly responsible does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election." Why would the editorial board of The New York Times disagree with you on this matter?

[...]

LAUER: But even those people in exit polling -- two-thirds, Senator, said that you attacked Senator Obama unfairly as com-- as compared to half the voters who said he attacked you unfairly. So it did seems that they sided --

Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
Matt Lauer
Show/Publication
Today Show
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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