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As NBC's Todd Rushes to Defend Obama, GOP Senator Tells 'Caffeinated' Host to Calm Down

At the start of an interview with Senator Bob Corker on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd demanded the Tennessee Republican justify criticism of President Obama's poor handling of Syria: "You've been very tough on the President, you said he's a diminished figure on Capitol Hill. And you even questioned whether he knew how to speak as a commander-in-chief. Explain yourself on that." [Listen to the audio]

Corker replied: "I am really disappointed in the way the President addresses our country and does not really make a case for what is our national interest." Todd quickly pushed back: "He had no political support. It was pretty clear. I mean, this was...going down in flames in Congress. It wasn't going to be a close vote. What was he supposed to do? He didn't have – he did not have the political will of the country, nor the political will of your colleagues on Capitol Hill."

Pointing out that Obama created the difficult political situation for himself, Corker noted: "I mean, he talked about the red line – and maybe he wishes he had never made that comment – but making that statement and then the actions that have followed have weakened-" Todd interrupted: "Wait, let me stop you there, has he said that to you about the red line comment? Or you don't think he meant to say it? Or he wishes he didn't say it? I just, I'm-" Corker remarked: "No, no. If you will, you're a little caffeinated here this morning. Let me finish."

Todd's desperate attempt to blame Congress for Obama's failure to lead on Syria echoed fellow MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell, who on Wednesday whined: "But you've had a lot of Republicans speaking out against him, and Democrats. Mitch McConnell in the Senate, the Republican leader, speaking out against military action. Can you blame him for giving a speech that doesn't call on Congress when he would have faced almost a certain defeat?"

Here is a transcript of Todd's September 12 exchange with Corker:

9:00AM TEASE:

CHUCK TODD: And the President hears harsh words from Capital Hill. We're going to talk to one senator who says the President can't speak to the nation or the world as a commander-in-chief anymore.

9:06AM SEGMENT:

TODD: Back to Syria, while Secretary Kerry is dealing with international pressure in Geneva, here at home, one prominent senator says he wants to hit the pause button on Syria as well. Joining me now is Senator Bob Corker, he's the top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And he joins me now. You've been very tough on the President, you said he's a diminished figure on Capitol Hill. And you even questioned whether he knew how to speak as a commander-in-chief. Explain yourself on that.

SEN. BOB CORKER [R-TN]: Well, Chuck, first of all, to your earlier comment before I came on, I'm really proud of the work that we did in the Foreign Relations Committee and on a 10-7 vote that gave an authorization for the use of military force to the President. And I think that has been helpful in this process. Secondly, I wish nothing but good things today with Secretary Kerry. I wish him godspeed, I said that to him personally and I hope there's a good outcome here.

But, yes, I mean, I have – look, the White House has been a hard group to help here. I was so disappointed in the President's speech two nights ago. I just – you know, I've been with him on Sunday night, he came to speak to our caucus at lunch on Tuesday, and God, it just really seemed like he was, Chuck, you know, talking like a commander-in-chief. And then, just the muddlement that came out of Tuesday night, not making a case for what is in our national interest.

And I'm disappointed, but again, I want nothing but good things for our country. I've worked with him on immigration, on nominations, and the nuclear option on fiscal issues, and now on this. But I am really disappointed in the way the President addresses our country and does not really make a case for what is our national interest.

TODD: Well, Senator, but let me ask you this. He had no political support. It was pretty clear. I mean, this was...

CORKER: Well, he got – well, wait a minute.

TODD: ...this was going down – this was going down in flames in Congress. It wasn't going to be a close vote.

CORKER: Yeah. Chuck, look-

TODD: What was he supposed to do? He didn't have – he did not have the political will of the country, nor the political will of your colleagues on Capitol Hill.

CORKER: Well, Chuck, again, he had my support and we passed something out of committee that he says he was able to utilize at the G-20. But one of the reasons that he has the lack of support that he has is he has never made a case. I mean, he talked about the red line – and maybe he wishes he had never made that comment – but making that statement and then the actions that have followed have weakened-

TODD: Wait, let me stop you there, has he said that to you about the red line comment? Or you don't think he meant to say it? Or he wishes he didn't say it? I just, I'm-  

CORKER: No, no. If you will, you're a little caffeinated here this morning. Let me finish.

TODD: Okay, sorry.

CORKER: Okay. You know, we talked Sunday night about the red line. And I shared with him how important it was that he own that and we talk about what that means as it relates to our nation's credibility and how it affects us regionally, how it affects us relative to Iran. I think you saw where Prime Minister Netanyahu talked about how this has been so harmful to the region. And so, you know, just to own that.

I went, after we passed, Chuck, this authorization for the use of force out of committee, he immediately in Sweden talks about how this was not his red line, but the world's red line. And again, it's just, this is a person who is contorted, he has difficulty taking ownership and talking about what our national interests are. And so, yeah, I'm disappointed. And I think the reason you see the lack of support is they've muddled the Syrian thing so much from the start.

But let me go back. I am really proud of what we did in the Foreign Relations Committee. We had a sober debate, people came with humility. We gave him what he needed  going to the G-20. I hope something good comes out of this in spite of the fact that I think he has great difficulty in communicating to our citizens, but also to the world, as a strong commander-in-chief. And I think that's why you're seeing this thing play out the way that it does. I hope that we lock up and end up with a diplomatic solution. I really do. I mean that. But look, these are – these folks have just been hard help. They've really been hard to help.

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