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NBC's Guthrie: Obama 'Deeply Disappointed' By Gun Bill Failure, But At Least He Passed ObamaCare

Appearing on Monday's Tonight Show, NBC Today co-host Savannah Guthrie told Jay Leno that President Obama was "deeply disappointed" by gun control legislation being voted down, prompting the late night host to complain: "Why do you think he's not able to close a deal? This seems to happen a lot....how come Obama hits this wall sometimes?" [Listen to the audio]

Guthrie acknowledged: "I think the criticism is that he hasn't quite learned how to work with Congress to get some of his initiatives through." But then she offered a defense of Obama by touting his supposed accomplishments: "I know if he were sitting here he'd say, 'Wait a minute, what about health care reform?' There have been big parts of his agenda that he has gotten through."

Leno lamented that Obama couldn't be more like another Democratic president and just force his liberal agenda through: "I can remember when I was a kid Lyndon Johnson would get guys in a room and go, 'Okay listen, your town is going to go broke unless you' – I mean, there was a lot of strong-arming. I don't know if that's good or bad, but he was able to get things done, the Civil Rights Act, a number of other things."

Here is a transcript of the May 6 exchange aired at 12:23 a.m. ET on May 7:

(...)

JAY LENO: Now, you did the White House beat for years and years, and you recently interviewed President [Obama] – you talked to him right before the gun vote, correct?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Yeah, actually, we had this interview with President Obama on Monday, April 15th, about two hours before the Boston attacks happened. In fact, I was flying home from Washington when this happened. And we talked about the gun vote, we talked about immigration reform, we talked about North Korea, which prior to the Boston bombing, was the biggest, most pressing issue on his plate.

LENO: Sure. Was he confident that the [gun] bill would pass or did he have his doubts?

GUTHRIE: I think he knew that it would be close. I think he believed they could cobble together the votes, and I think, as it was evident, they were deeply disappointed that they didn't get the votes.

LENO: Now, why do you think he's not able to close a deal? This seems to happen a lot. We get right up to the wire, and then – I mean, I can remember when I was a kid Lyndon Johnson would get guys in a room and go, "Okay listen, your town is going to go broke unless you" – I mean, there was a lot of strong-arming. I don't know if that's good or bad, but he was able to get things done, the Civil Rights Act, a number of other things. Why – how come Obama hits this wall sometimes?

GUTHRIE: Well, I mean, I think the criticism is that he hasn't quite learned how to work with Congress to get some of his initiatives through. I know if he were sitting here he'd say, "Wait a minute, what about health care reform?" There have been big parts of his agenda that he has gotten through.

LENO: Sure.

GUTHRIE: But the issue with guns is an interesting one because it's less about party politics than it is about geography. So the uphill battle that the President faced, and his allies, was that there were, there were Democrats from conservative states who weren't about to vote yes for this.

LENO: Right.

GUTHRIE: And it's just, gun politics are extremely difficult, that's why it doesn't get tried very often.

(...)