On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd promoted the President's speech in Osawatomie, Kansas calling for an extension of payroll tax cuts as "the Obama version of prairie populism" and touted how the commander in chief, "cast himself and the Democratic Party as the protectors of a middle class under Republican assault."
Throughout the report, Todd alternated between reciting White House talking points and playing sound bites of the President. Todd explained: "And in case folks missed the references to the middle class, the President used the phrase 20 times....Using phrases like 'fair shot' and 'fair share,' he even used the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement." A clip was played of Obama declaring: "These aren't Democratic values or Republican values, these aren't 1% values or 99% values. They're American values."
Near the end of the segment, Todd finally mentioned Republican candidates, but only to focus on them attacking each other, not criticizing Obama.
Todd noted how, "Gingrich also took heat on the airwaves, courtesy of Ron Paul." He added: "Mitt Romney, no longer in control of the Republican race, has abandoned his hands-off-the-media strategy, but denies it's because he's lost the lead."
On Wednesday's Today, Todd again focused on the GOP horse race while portraying Obama as above it all, "Casting himself and not Republicans as the protector of the middle class." The headline on screen read: "Middle Class Champion?; President Sounds Campaign Theme For 2012."
Here is a full transcript of Todd's December 6 Nightly News report:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Game on. President Obama becomes candidate Obama.
7:01PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: Exactly four weeks from today, the Iowa caucuses will give us the first results of this election season. And tonight things are on the move. The latest polling shows Newt Gingrich out ahead in Iowa by 2 to 1 over Mitt Romney, who chose not to campaign there early on, but that's changing.
And President Obama today invoked an old rule in politics, define yourself or wait to be defined by others. He gave a speech in the Midwest today that was different in tone, tenor, volume than what he has been saying lately. And so today, four weeks from Iowa, it sure seemed like this campaign was on. It's where we begin tonight with our chief White House correspondent and political director, Chuck Todd. Hey, Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian, you got that right. As the Republican campaign appears headed to a two-way contest, the man they ultimately have to beat flew out to Kansas to lay out what some aides said will be the cornerstone of his case for re-election. The President rolled out the Obama version of prairie populism today in a small Kansas town identified with a famously aggressive Republican.
BARACK OBAMA: In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here to Osawatomie and he laid out his vision for what he called a new nationalism, of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.
TODD: Mr. Obama again cast himself and the Democratic Party as the protectors of a middle class under Republican assault.
OBAMA: And their philosophy is simple, we are better off when everybody's left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. I am here to say they are wrong.
TODD: And in case folks missed the references to the middle class, the President used the phrase 20 times.
OBAMA: This is a make or break moment for the middle class.
TODD: Using phrases like "fair shot" and "fair share," he even used the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
OBAMA: These aren't Democratic values or Republican values, these aren't 1% values or 99% values. They're American values.
TODD: In an odd coincidence, Teddy Roosevelt became an issue today for Republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich, who had once called himself a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. Gingrich also took heat on the airwaves, courtesy of Ron Paul.
RON PAUL AD: He's demonstrating himself to be the very essence of the Washington insiders.
TODD: And Mitt Romney, no longer in control of the Republican race, has abandoned his hands-off-the-media strategy, but denies it's because he's lost the lead.
MITT ROMNEY: That's what happens towards the end of a campaign, it's time for our closing argument.
TODD: And, Brian, the so-called Donald Trump debate lost a key contestant today. Mitt Romney said he just can't find a way to fit it into his schedule, but Romney did say he personally called up Donald Trump to tell him no.
WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd in our Washington newsroom starting us off tonight. Chuck, thanks.
- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.