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CNBC's John Harwood Blames GOP 'Crazy Politics' for Debt Ceiling Stalemate

Appearing on Saturday's NBC Today, CNBC's John Harwood solely blamed House Republicans for the ongoing debt ceiling gridlock: "Speaker Boehner and President Obama, were negotiating in good faith. They wanted a deal....the House Republican caucus...would not accept what President Obama needed to make a deal, and that is real and significant tax hikes as a component."

Harwood argued conservative House members were intimidating Boehner and declared: "That's why Boehner left the talks. That's why the United States' risk of default, while still low in my opinion, is higher than it was 24 hours ago." Later, Harwood touted how "Independents are starting to side with Democrats" and proclaimed: "House Republicans are not playing politics on this. It's crazy politics, what they're doing, and Republican leaders think it may hurt the party. But it's what they believe, and that's why we're at this point."

Co-host Amy Robach asked Harwood about President Obama's unusual Friday evening press conference: "He was really angry. What message was he trying to send with that press conference?" Harwood explained: "What he was trying to do, Amy, was condition public opinion for the end-stage of these negotiations....He's trying to press the advantage that he's gained in public opinion, we saw that from our NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier in the week." It seems Harwood, too, was trying to "condition public opinion."

Here is a full transcript of the July 23 segment:

7:10AM ET

AMY ROBACH: CNBC's John Harwood joins us with more. John, good morning.

JOHN HARWOOD: Morning, Amy.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Debt Deal Breakdown; Obama & Boehner Spar Over Who's to Blame]

ROBACH: Well, up until last night everyone thought this grand bargain was a likely deal. And then, of course, we have both the President and the Speaker calling these last-minute press conferences. What happened?

HARWOOD: It's pretty simple, actually, Amy. Both of these leaders, Speaker Boehner and President Obama, were negotiating in good faith. They wanted a deal. But for a deal to succeed, you have to have the followers of those leaders accept it. The House Republican leaders would not accept – the House Republican caucus, that is – would not accept what President Obama needed to make a deal, and that is real and significant tax hikes as a component.

I was on the phone, Amy, the other night for an hour with a conservative House Republican member to try to figure out what's going on, and what he said was, 'Yes, Speaker Boehner could try to push a deal with real tax increases to the Republican caucus, but guess what, he wouldn't be the speaker after that. They would throw him out.' That's why Boehner left the talks. That's why the United States' risk of default, while still low in my opinion, is higher than it was 24 hours ago.

ROBACH: And, John, you know it's incredibly rare to see the President put on a Friday night press conference, and one that he called with just 15 minutes leeway for the media to gather their cameras together. He was really angry. What message was he trying to send with that press conference?

HARWOOD: What he was trying to do, Amy, was condition public opinion for the end-stage of these negotiations. The fallback has always been not a big deal but a small deal, something that would raise the debt limit, and whether it's short-term or long-term. He wants a longer term. He's trying to press the advantage that he's gained in public opinion, we saw that from our NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier in the week.

[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC OF POLL RESULTS]

HARWOOD: Independents are starting to side with Democrats. And it's why, by the way, Speaker Boehner was right when he said in his press conference this wasn't about personalities, it was about different visions of the country. House Republicans are not playing politics on this. It's crazy politics what they're doing, and Republican leaders think it may hurt the party. But it's what they believe, and that's why we're at this point.

ROBACH: And, John, it's interesting, Speaker Boehner called his press conference a few minutes after President Obama, but notably after the markets had already closed. Was this intentional?

HARWOOD: Absolutely it was intentional. The Speaker was trying to do what he could to minimize the fallout from the collapse of these talks. And it's why there's urgency in the meetings today and also on Sunday to try to come to some resolution before markets open on Monday, in the hope that they can avoid a negative reaction, rising interest rates, things that will hurt the economy, which is already fragile.

ROBACH: Alright, John Harwood, as always, thanks so much for your insight.

HARWOOD: You bet.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.