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Eager MSNBC Wonders If 2012 Election Is 'in the Bag' for Barack Obama?

Despite the fact that the 2012 presidential election is still 20 months away, MSNBC apparently has an idea who might win. On Monday's News Nation, a network graphic featured a picture of Barack Obama and these words: "2012: In the Bag?"

Anchor Tamron Hall even cited as inspiration for the day's segment, last week's edition of the liberal Real Time With Bill Maher: "I was watching Bill Maher and this is how this conversation kind of came up."

Hall continued, "He said, in a sense, 'Doesn't President Obama have it in the bag,' when he was speaking with Arianna Huffington.'" The host, who was talking to Politico reporter David Catanese, appeared completely unselfconscious about referencing a leftist program for proof that the 2012 election is "in the bag."

Hall's evidence for such a conclusion is the fact that only one Republican, Herman Cain, has announced so far: "So, obviously, timing is everything. You have certainly people like Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, those who haven't officially announce but why do you believe Republicans are waiting?"

A transcript of the February 14 segment, which aired at 2:31pm EST, follows:

MSNBC GRAPHIC: 2012: In the Bag?

TAMRON HALL: And the 2012 presidential race is such a sweeping political story that it's easy to overlook a key detail. There are only two candidates and the President is one of them. At the same time, in the last election cycle, we had a field of 17 Democrats and Republicans, all of them had either had thrown their hats in the ring or formed a committee to raise money for a bid. But, now there's President Obama and one republican, Herman Cain, a former CEO who is not exactly, certainly, a household name.

[Bill Maher clip]

BILL MAHER: Can you even think of a Republican who you would consider voting for in 2012?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, who knows who is going to be running in 2012. But one thing I know-

MAHER: But, just think of any Republican, any Republican, any Republican who is alive.

HALL: David Catanese is a reporter with Politico. David, thank you so much for joining us.

DAVID CATANESE (Politico): Good to be with you, Tamron.

HALL: So, obviously, timing is everything. You have certainly people like Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, those who haven't officially announce but why do you believe Republicans are waiting?

CATANESE: Well, I think there's two things. I think one thing as you saw President Obama get a high approval rating coming out of a lame duck session, so there's uncertainty about how vulnerable he's gong to be. So, some of these guys are angling for 2016. Some of them are looking at 2012, will he be too tough to beat? Some of them looking ahead. But, there's also a second thing. I think there are lessons from the 2008 campaign when a bunch of the Republicans got in the race, but spent a bunch of money and it dried up John McCain's- John McCain was almost gone and that proved not to be a smart decision.

HALL: Pat Buchanan, he's MSNBC analyst, obviously, believes this may not be all bad for Republicans and we should not look at the tick tock necessarily, because some of the people that we know are planning to run are already household names so they really aren't working from the ground up, especially in the Twitter, Facebook age and, of course, 24-hour cable news.

CATANESE: Absolutely. And I think some of the candidates you probably- the smart betting is they are running. You know, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, you know, Haley Barbour over this weekend. Some of the comments he's making, he looks seriously like's going to do this. He's planning a trip to Iowa next month which is always a prime indicator. I think, some of the wild cards out there, Governor Mitch Daniels, he's being coy what his intentions are and the big question mark is always around Sarah Palin. It's unpredictable what she's going to end up doing.

HALL: And what about, you know, I was watching Bill Maher and this is how this conversation kind of came up, he said, in a sense, "Doesn't President Obama have it in the bag," when he was speaking with Arianna Huffington. Is there an assumption, maybe, amongst the President's supporters when you see Republicans waiting to launch their bid?

CATANESE: I don't there think there's any assumption. I think they feel better about his political now than just two, three months ago after the 2010 midterms and part of it is because the uncertainty about the GOP field. But, I think that, there'- when it comes push to shove, Republicans are going to be united around a candidate to take on President Obama. It's just going to take a while to get to that process.

- Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.