On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer actually used the President's own past statements about Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to grill deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: "President Obama said this of Paul Ryan, that he was 'absolutely sincere about wanting to reduce the deficit'...gave him 'credit for at least being willing to put out there some very tough choices.' Does he still feel that way?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cutter attempted to rely on the usual Democratic fearmongering, accusing Ryan of a plan "that balances the budget on the backs of the middle class." Lauer called her out for that tactic, again citing Obama's own words: "...he said this, quote, 'We're not going to be able to do anything about these entitlements if what we do characterize whatever proposal's are put out there as well, you know, that's the other party being irresponsible...the other party trying to hurt our senior citizens.' Which sounds exactly what – like what you just said."
In response, Cutter doubled down on the line of attack her boss once denounced: "Well, no, Matt, I disagree. It doesn't sound just like what I just said. The facts are about Mr. Ryan's budget is that it really does balance the budgets on the backs of the middle class and the needy."
Lauer rounded out his tough questioning by wondering: "Paul Ryan is a seven-term congressman from that state. Every time he ran he won with I think a majority of over 60%. Do you worry that he brings Wisconsin in play and that he helps in other rust-belt states?"
Prior to Lauer's interview with Cutter, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie talked to Romney campaign senior advisor Kevin Madden and suggested the pick of Ryan was a sign of Romney losing: "Governor Romney's been getting a lot of credit for making a bold, game-changing choice here. It strikes me that you don't make a choice like that if you think you are winning the campaign. Is this a tacit acknowledgment the strategy Romney had before, just running against the Obama economy, is not working?"
Guthrie went on to claim that "this pick of Congressman Ryan has delighted both conservatives and liberals, and for one reason, because of the Ryan budget." She also fretted: "The hallmark of Romney's argument to be president is that he's a Washington outsider who has primarily private sector expertise. In Congressman Ryan you have somebody who has spent his entire life in Washington and has zero private sector experience. How do you square that?"