Appearing on Wednesday's NBC Today, Meet the Press host David Gregory ripped Rick Perry's flat tax proposal: "The problem is, this does help the rich. It hurts a lot of the poor and the middle class. Political professionals I talk to say the problem with the flat tax ideas is that once voters look at it a second or third time they don't like it much." [Audio available here ]
Gregory even suggested Republican voters in Iowa would be opposed to the plan: "A lot of voters in the Iowa caucuses are not necessarily rich so it may not stand the test of time." He then added: "And oh, by the way, how do you get it passed when nobody can agree on tax reform right now?"
Co-host Ann Curry went on to ask for Gregory's thoughts on an unusual ad put out by Herman Cain. Gregory used the opportunity to bash Cain's entire campaign:
...all I can tell you is that the writers of Saturday Night Live can put up their feet because the work has been done for them. That's completely crazy, honestly, and this is indicative of what a lot of people say is the problem with Herman Cain....an ad like that seems to reflect the fact that he doesn't have an organization that's up to snuff. He doesn't have a message....honestly it's just bizarre.
NBC recently ignored Vice President Joe Biden's outrageous argument that Republicans not supporting portions of President Obama's jobs bill would lead to an increase in crime, including rape and armed robbery. Today certainly did not bring Gregory on to label such ranting as "crazy" or "bizarre."
Here is a full transcript of the October 26 segment:
ANN CURRY: David Gregory is the moderator of Meet the Press. David, good morning.
DAVID GREGORY: Hey, Ann.
CURRY: Why is the President making this populist effort now out west, on Leno, reaching out to college graduates, and will it give him the momentum he needs?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "We've Lost Our Ambition"; What's Obama's Message With Western Swing?]
GREGORY: Well, we'll see about that. There's a new Ohio poll out this morning showing that he leads any Republican in the field for president, that's a good sign for the re-election campaign. Look, the conversation in Washington has stopped. His jobs bill is not going anywhere. He tried to break it down. It's still not going anywhere. Now the President's trying to do things that he can do by himself, whether it's on housing or whether it's on student aid, this is some micro-targeting going out, trying to target some individual voter groups where he can make a difference on the economy. And he's trying to go to states and use forums like the Leno show where he can directly reach people and sort of get outside of the din of Washington.
CURRY: Meantime, is there anything in Governor Rick Perry's flat tax plan that might give him some traction?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Flat Tax; Will Perry's Plan Help Jumpstart Campaign?]
GREGORY: Well, look, these flat tax ideas have become all the rage here in the campaign because of Herman Cain. Can you believe it? But that's what's happening and now Republicans are rushing to do something that a lot of Americans want, which is to get rid of the tax code. There is so much disaffection and frustration right now with Washington, the idea of getting rid of the tax code is very popular.
The problem is, this does help the rich. It hurts a lot of the poor and the middle class. Political professionals I talk to say the problem with the flat tax ideas is that once voters look at it a second or third time they don't like it much. A lot of voters in the Iowa caucuses are not necessarily rich so it may not stand the test of time. And oh, by the way, how do you get it passed when nobody can agree on tax reform right now?
CURRY: That's right. And Herman Cain, who forced this tax debate, this idea of a tax policy debate, he's out with a new web video featuring his campaign manager smoking. Now what do you think this video is trying to say to us, David?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Up in Smoke; What's Behind Cain Campaign's Cigarette Ad?]
GREGORY: I have no idea. I mean, I don't know whether they're selling Camel cigarettes or selling a candidate. But I mean all I can tell you is that the writers of Saturday Night Live can put up their feet because the work has been done for them. That's completely crazy, honestly, and this is indicative of what a lot of people say is the problem with Herman Cain. Herman Cain is leading in polls in key states, including Ohio in a new poll out, but an ad like that seems to reflect the fact that he doesn't have an organization that's up to snuff. He doesn't have a message. I mean, to use some campaign manager who's not known and then take that tight shot of him smoking, I – honestly it's just bizarre. I don't know what they're trying to convey.
CURRY: But there's something unconventional about – clearly unconventional about Herman Cain's campaign and is there something about that unconventionality that actually is appealing to voters?
GREGORY: Well, yeah, put the ad aside and the answer is yes, there's no question. He's an outsider who's running an outside kind of campaign, that's resonating right now. You look at polling that's come out within the last couple of weeks, including this one out today. People who actually either blame the government or don't trust the government is near 90% of those polled. That gives room to somebody like Herman Cain, who does have a simple message, who is an appealing person and who has done a lot of interviews and comes across quite well. I think that's quite different from spending campaign funds on an ad that doesn't appear to make any sense.
CURRY: Alright, David Gregory, thanks for your reflection this is morning. Appreciate it.
GREGORY: Alright, Ann, thanks.
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.