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NBC's Vieira To Gingrich: Is A Strong Tea Party Good for GOP?

NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Tuesday's Today show, in a segment breaking down today's primary races with Newt Gingrich, cited a possible Rand Paul win over Trey Grayson in the GOP Kentucky Senate primary fight as an example of the Tea Party's strength and actually wondered if that was a cause of concern for the GOP. Vieira pressed the former Speaker of the House: "If Rand Paul wins, that's good news for the Tea Party movement but is it good news for the Republicans come November?" For his part Gingrich responded it was good news for the GOP in that the Tea Party adds "drive" and a "toughness that the Republican Party needs."

Also during her interview with Gingrich, who was on to plug his new book To Save America, Vieira plucked out an admittedly over-the-top quote made by Gingrich as she questioned: "Can you honestly compare what's going on with the Democrats to Nazi Germany?" However this line of questioning revealed a double standard at NBC News, as Vieira's colleague Andrea Mitchell, back on the May 3 NBC Nightly News, wasn't bothered by Saturday Night Live's Seth Myers calling Arizonans Nazis, even going as far to highlight his exchange with Jon Stewart:

ANDREA MITCHELL: It's now gone beyond protest to threats of a boycott, as Arizona becomes a laughing stock to some.

SETH MYERS, SNL: Can we all agree that there's nothing more Nazi than saying, "Show me your papers"? There's never been a World War II movie that didn't include the line, "Show me your papers." It's their catch phrase.

MYERS CLIP #2: So heads up, Arizona. That's fascism. I know, I know, it's a dry fascism, but it's still fascism.

JON STEWART: That's tough. It's not unprecedented, having to carry around your papers. It's the same thing free black people had to do in 1863.

The following is a complete transcript of Vieira's interview with Gingrich as it was aired on the May 18 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Yeah but flying over Pennsylvania. Savannah Guthrie, thank you very much. Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich is the former Republican Speaker of the House and the author of the new book, "To Save America, Stopping Obama's Secular Socialist Machine." Mr. Speaker, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "'To Save America' Does Gingrich Regret Nazi Comparison To Obama?"]

NEWT GINGRICH: It's good to be with you.

VIEIRA: Good to have you here sir. Before we get to the primaries, let's talk a little bit about a statement in your book that's, that's drawing a lot of attention. You say that Obama and the Democrats are pushing what you call "the secular socialist agenda" and you write, quote, "The secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." Can you honestly compare what's going on with the Democrats to Nazi Germany?

GINGRICH: It's not a question of how evil they were. Nazi Germany was terrible. Stalinist Russia was terrible. Maoist China was terrible. It's a question of finality. Had we lost either of those contests we'd have become a radically different country. The secular socialist agenda, clearly, is for an America fundamentally different than America has been for the last 400 years.

VIEIRA: But when you hear that term "Nazi," that's one of those inflammatory words that can turn people off to any message you might have.

GINGRICH: Look the fact is that if you look at the threat they presented to the American way of life, I'm not talking about the moral equivalence. I'm talking about the finality of losing.

VIEIRA: I'm not talking about the mass murder and genocide.

GINGRICH: I'm not talking about mass murder. I condemn, as every American should, Mao's China, Stalin's Russia and, and Hitler's Germany. But they represented a fundamental threat to the survival of America as a country based on a creator giving us rights. A country based in individual freedom and a country in which the government was subordinate to people. In a sense what the election is about today, is Washington dominant or are the citizens dominant? And I do believe that Obama's secular socialist machine threatens to impose in this country a series of bureaucratic decisions that are very dangerous.

VIEIRA: You, you talk about the threat of Obama's administration and the Democrats. And yet when you look at primaries that we're gonna witness today, there is this anti-incumbent mood that's all across the country, and it's regardless of party, Republicans and Democrats.

GINGRICH: And I think the Republicans in the last two years earned part of that animus. But if you look at it carefully, Tim Burns' race, the special election in Western Pennsylvania for the House is a very important indicator. If Burns wins, that's a big signal. Princella Smith, who's also running in Arkansas in the House primary has a huge opportunity. And I think in all three of the races you described, my guess is you're gonna see the anti-tax change-oriented candidate winning. I think in Specter's case, the fact that he's been elected for 30 years, the fact that he switched parties. I mean Callista and I both wish he would return the money we helped raised for him when he was a Republican.

VIEIRA: Do you think if he loses the primary today, that, that is a referendum on President Obama who's decided not to camp-

GINGRICH: No.

VIEIRA: You do not?

GINGRICH: No, no, no, look I think Obama is, first of all, President Obama is a very attractive, personable leader. He has a wonderful family. I think people are gonna like him, long after they dislike his policies. But there's no evidence in Virginia, New Jersey, or Massachusetts that he can transfer that to anybody. I mean he turned out no additional votes for the Democrats in any of those three races.

VIEIRA: You know when you look in Kentucky the Tea Party activists they, including Sarah Palin, they are rallying behind Rand Paul. He's running against Trey Grayson, who is the establishment candidate for all intents and purposes.

GINGRICH: Right.

VIEIRA: Who are you supporting in this race?

GINGRICH: Well I'm neutral in the race. But I have to say that Rand Paul got a huge advantage when Jim Bunning endorsed him. And I think that there is no question that Rand Paul represents the more anti-tax insurgent elements of Kentucky.

VIEIRA: And Newt why are you neutral in this race? In Utah you were very clearly for Bob Bennett. So why in this race are you-

GINGRICH: Well in the first place Bennett was an old friend. Bennett had been around and I think, I think was an honorable person with an 84 percent conservative voting record. In this case it's an open seat. I have friends on both sides. I'm friends with Jim Bunning. I'm friends with Mitch McConnell. And my hunch is that Rand Paul has the edge today, but it didn't seem, I don't need to go around the country and get into every single race in the country.

VIEIRA: Yeah but if Rand Paul wins, that's good news for the Tea Party movement but is it good news for the Republicans come November?

GINGRICH: Sure. Of course it is. I mean if, if, if the Tea Party movement and the Republicans stay together to defeat Obamaism, the Tea Party adds, the Tea Party movement adds energy, it adds drive, it adds a toughness that the Republican Party needs.

VIEIRA: Alright, Newt Gingrich, thank you so much.

GINGRICH: It's good to be with you.

VIEIRA: Congratulations on the book as well. It's called To Save America.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here