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NBC's Todd Hypes 'Speed Bumps' for Romney: Mourdock and 'Eyebrow-Raising' Sununu Comments

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On Friday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd described how "both sides are dealing with some unexpected political speed bumps on the trail" and began by detailing the supposed obstacles for the Romney campaign:

...it's Indiana's Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who made controversial comments about abortion and rape on Tuesday...another unforced error for Team Romney and Republicans, national campaign co-chair John Sununu made these eyebrow-raising comments in response to Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama.

A clip played of Sununu telling CNN's Piers Morgan: "Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."

Todd later touted how "overnight the Romney campaign had John Sununu release a statement on what he said about Colin Powell." In the statement, Sununu explained: "Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made, and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President's policies."

That was not enough for Todd: "...it certainly wasn't an apology for how he worded that analysis. But I'm sure it'll be – we'll hear more about it today."

As much as Todd fretted over Sununu's comments, NBC wasn't interested in actress Eva Longoria, a co-chair for the Obama campaign, retweeting an offensive comment about Romney to her over 4 million followers on October 16.

In his Friday report, Todd did acknowledge that Obama "has his own speed bump to deal with," referring to the President telling Rolling Stone magazine that "kids have good instincts" about politics, "They look at the other guy and say, well, that's a b***s***'er, I can tell." However, Todd gave every benefit of the doubt: "...some have interpreted [that comment] as a dig at Romney....The campaign did not deny Mr. Obama was referring to Romney."

Todd didn't seem concerned with whether or not Obama apologized for using profane language to insult Romney.

Here is a transcript of Todd's October 26 report:

7:06AM ET

MATT LAUER: President Obama is back in Washington this morning after a whirlwind campaign tour, as Governor Romney heads to Iowa and the biggest battleground state of Ohio. NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd is in Cincinnati this morning. Chuck, good morning to you.

CHUCK TODD: Well, good morning, Matt. You could be forgiven if you thought Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were running for the presidency of Ohio. They've been here a lot, they were here a lot yesterday, because both campaigns believe this state is that critical to their prospects in 11 days. President Obama wrapped up a 48-hour eight-state battleground blitz in Cleveland, Ohio late Thursday, and with a hoarse voice questioned his opponent's trustworthiness.

BARACK OBAMA: There's no more serious issue in a presidential campaign than trust. Trust matters. You know what, Ohio? After all these years, you now know me. You know that I mean what I say.

TODD: At almost exactly the same moment 150 miles west, Mitt Romney took the stage in Defiance, Ohio.

MITT ROMNEY: Now that's an Ohio welcome. Thank you.

TODD: And borrowing a page from President Obama's 2008 playbook, calling himself the candidate of change.

ROMNEY: This is a time when America faces big challenges. We have a big election, and we want a president who will actually bring big changes. And I will and he won't.

TODD: Ohio is the ultimate bellwether in presidential elections, most recently picking George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. Mitt Romney's first stop Thursday was in Cincinnati, part of Hamilton County. It's the largest county in Ohio that switched from Republican Bush in 2004 to Democrat Obama in 2008. The President has been putting a big emphasis in Ohio and other states on early voting, which is why he decided to become the first president to cast his ballot before election day.

Meanwhile, both sides are dealing with some unexpected political speed bumps on the trail. For Mitt Romney, it's Indiana's Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who made controversial comments about abortion and rape on Tuesday. Romney ignored questions about Mourdock three times on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Governor, do you disavow Mourdock's comments on rape?

TODD: In what may be another unforced error for Team Romney and Republicans, national campaign co-chair John Sununu made these eyebrow-raising comments in response to Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama.

JOHN SUNUNU: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.

TODD: Still, Mr. Obama has his own speed bump to deal with. In an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine, the President commented on the wisdom of children. His remarks, which some have interpreted as a dig at Romney, included this quotation: "You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, well, that's a b***s***'er, I can tell." However, the President did not short-hand it. The Obama campaign admitted the remark occurred, but said it was during a casual conversation at the end of the interview. The campaign did not deny Mr. Obama was referring to Romney.

And as competitive as Ohio may be, there are other states that may be closer. New NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls show an incredibly tight race in Colorado, with the President and Mitt Romney tied at 48%. And while Nevada remains close, the President is at the magic 50% mark.

Now, overnight the Romney campaign had John Sununu release a statement on what he said about Colin Powell. Let me read it to you, Matt. "Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made, and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President's policies. Piers Morgan's question was whether Colin Powell should leave the party and I don't think he should." Well, Matt, I don't quite think that's exactly the way the question was, and it certainly wasn't an apology for how he worded that analysis. But I'm sure it'll be – we'll hear more about it today.

LAUER: Exactly.

(...)