NBC's Todd Can't Call Obama a Liberal But Labels GOP Governors 'Conservative Warriors'

NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, on Tuesday's Today show, had no problem labeling Republican governors like Scott Walker, "conservative," but for some reason just couldn't get his lips to utter the word "liberal" when referring to the President.

In a piece about Barack Obama meeting with the nation's governors, Todd observed that in his first two years in office "when the President was desperate for bipartisan support" he turned "to some Republican governors but a lot of the moderates are gone among that group" adding that now there was "a conservative force in the states." Todd then went on to note that moderate Republicans like Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger were being replaced by "conservative warriors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker" but he never attached a single liberal label to the President or any of his policies.

The following is a transcript of the full Todd segment as it was aired on the March 1 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Now to politics and the President's meeting with the nation's governors on Monday. Some in that room could actually run against him next year. Chuck Todd is NBC's chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "'Make Yourself At Home,' Obama Welcomes 2012 GOP Rivals At Governors Meeting"]

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Matt. Look, in his first two years in office when the President was desperate for bipartisan support he could turn to some Republican governors but a lot of the moderates are gone among that group. There is a new conservative force in the states that's turning into a political force.

BARACK OBAMA: Feel free to make yourselves at home. For those of you with a particular interest in the next election, I don't mean that literally.

TODD: Speaking to the nation's governors on Monday, President Obama opened with a joke aimed right at his majority Republican audience, underscoring the stakes going into the 2012 presidential campaign. Early in his term Mr. Obama leaned on Republican governors like Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger for bipartisan support but many of those moderates are gone, replaced by conservative warriors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker who's locked in that stand-off with a key Democratic constituency, state employee unions, over collective bargaining rights. While acknowledging tough budget times the President said bashing unions is counterproductive.

OBAMA: But I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon.

TODD: One of the bigger state battles for the President is over his signature health care law, which faces legal challenges in 27 states. The President told governors starting in three years their states could opt out of portions of that law, including the so-called individual mandate which requires people to purchase health insurance. But to get that waiver a state must prove it meets specific federal standards on coverage and costs. Initial Republican reaction was somewhat positive.

GOV. SAM BROWNBACK, KANSAS-R: This offers a little bit of flexibility which I think is a positive thing. But it doesn't change the overall objection to the bill.

TODD: Despite the new rules it doesn't mean health care will be any less of a political wedge issue in 2012 for incumbent GOP senators worried about being tea partied-

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, UTAH-R: It's good to allow them to work out their own problems rather than a one size fits all federal government stupid, dumb-ass program. It is really an awful piece of crap.

TODD: -to the presidential campaign, especially if Mr. Obama's opponent ends up Mitt Romney.

OBAMA: In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he's proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He's right.

TODD: All of the energy inside the Republican Party is state-based these days. So much so, for the first time in over a hundred years, Matt, not a single sitting U.S. senator here in Washington is actually going to run for President.

- Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here