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Instead of Republicans, Networks Turn to Obama Aide for GOP Debate Reaction

The morning after eight Republican presidential candidates debated each other in California, all three morning shows brought on a Democrat, White House chief of staff William Daley.

Good Morning America, the Early Show and Today all offered varying degrees of tough questions for Mr. Daley. But, couldn't the networks have at least found one Republican candidate willing to appear on-air?

Early Show's Erica Hill, however, did grill the Obama aide on the President's new jobs plan. She reminded, "The proposal has been called more political theater. Of course, one congressman called this joint session an abuse of power." [See video above. MP3 audio here.]

At one point, Daley got testy with Hill over the GOP debate. After pointing out attacks by Mitt Romney, the Early Show co-host pushed, "Can you point to one specific thing in the President's plan that will be laid out tonight that is new, that is not going to be seen as a reflection of an old stimulus attempt?"

This prompted Daley to shoot back: " I think you're buying into a lot of political rhetoric that's going on in debates right now." Hill then retorted, "I think the American people just want specifics, sir."

Over on the Today show, Matt Lauer complained about a lack of congressional support: "And yet, Mitch McConnell said in the last day or so that while they will listen politely, they don't want to hear ideas from the past. They don't want more spending and more borrowing. So that doesn't sound like we're on the verge of bipartisan support."

Lauer played rough, too. After playing a clip of the President saying he would be a one term president if he didn't improve the economy, the NBC journalist observed, "As I said, 8.1 percent unemployment when he said those words. It's 9.1% now. Are those words going to prove prophetic?"

On Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos noted how long and often Obama has been talking about jobs. He insisted, "How will this [speech] be different and what difference will it make?"

A transcript of the September 08 Early Show segment, which aired at 7:07am EDT, follows:

ERICA HILL: Also joining us from the White House, the President's chief of staff Bill Daley. So good to have you with us this morning.

BILL DALEY: Thank you very much, Erica.

HILL: The proposal has been called more political theater. Of course, one congressman called the joint session an abuse of power. We know Republican leaders asked to sit down with President Obama ahead of the speech. Why not sit down with Republican leaders, hash things out and present a united plan tonight to Congress and to the American people?

DALEY: The President spoke with Speaker Boehner yesterday. The President has engaged with the majority in the House. He is speaking not only to the Congress tonight, he's speaking to the American people about his proposals which will be the American Jobs Act. If Congress acts and acts quick, they can create jobs, they can grow the economy, they can help people get back to work and so it is a challenge not only to Congress, but it is a speech to the American people and this is a difficult time for many Americans. It's time for Congress, after a five-week vacation to come back and do something and not just say no to everything that gets proposed in this town.

HILL: It will be a challenge to Congress, but of course this is the President's plan.

DALEY: Yes.

HILL: A poll in the Washington Post found 81 percent of Americans think the President's economic policies are either having no effect or making the economy worse. If this doesn't pass Congress, and that is a big possibility, what is the plan B for you folks in the White House?

DALEY: Look, it, the President is an optimist. He believes that the economy can be helped by action, by Congress, and stop the rhetoric. The plan he puts forward will put people to work. It will get money in the people's hands. It will help small businesses to create jobs, whether they're for veterans, whether they're for the long-term unemployed, for people who are in need right now. So, I think- I know there's a conventional wisdom in this town to always dump on anybody's proposal, and to be pessimistic, it's about time that the political system reflect the Americans' attitude. These are very difficult times. There's no question about it. The President was inaugurated two and a half years ago, after four million Americans had been laid off. The economy turned into a much worse situation than anyone anticipated. But this President gets up. He will continue to put plans forward that will help the American people. He is not a negative person like so many people seem to be becoming in this country today, especially the politicians in this town. He believes in the American people that it's time for action, not just rhetoric.

HILL: Well, negative- And Americans clearly want action. Sir, they clearly want action.

DALEY: Yes, they do.

HILL: But, realistically, is there another option if, in fact, this does not pass?

DALEY: The President will continue to put plans forward to the Congress, and we will take action as an administration that will help the American people. If the Congress doesn't want to act and the Congress wants to just continue especially the majority in the House, if they want to just continue saying no to everything and have political theater and worry about the election next year and stop the economy today in order in anticipation of an election 14 months ago, that's not why the American people sent them to this town. They sent them to this town as they sent the president to get up every day and try to accomplish something, not just talk.

HILL: One last quick question for you.

DALEY: Sure.

HILL: Mitt Romney in last night's debate said the President, and I'm quoting here, "doesn't have a clue on how to get this country going again." Can you point to one specific thing in the President's plan that will be laid out tonight that is new, that is not going to be seen as a reflection of an old stimulus attempt?

DALEY: No- No. You know, You- I think you're buying into a lot of political rhetoric that's going on in debates right now.

HILL: I think the American people just want specifics, sir.


DALEY: The American people will get specifics and it will be a plan that will be paid for that if enacted it will create jobs and will cause economic growth and I think the political spin that goes around in this town ought to take a back seat to what the American people want and that is action, and not just a lot of rhetoric. .

HILL: Bill Daley appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

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