On the September 18 broadcast of NBC's syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, MSNBC News Live anchor Lisa Daniels repeatedly defended President Bush's widely criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, predicting "that this is actually ... going to be a win for President Bush." Citing Bush's purported ability to overcome low expectations in presidential debates, Daniels described Katrina as "the perfect storm for him" and suggested that it was "actually going to work to his advantage." In addition, Daniels touted Bush's "likeability factor" and told viewers, "He's the same guy that was on 9-11 with the bullhorn. He hasn't changed. And people still relate to his character." She added that "the white folks" in the French Quarter "told me directly" that "[t]hey're blaming New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin" instead of Bush, because "[t]hey think he [Bush] cares."
From the September 18 broadcast of The Chris Matthews Show:
MATTHEWS: Lisa, you're the new kid on the block this week, but let me ask you about this thing. You were down there. I was down there with you. We were covering the hurricane down there -- the whole clean-up mess with all the water. By the way, it's still all there. That city is in terrible shape. Amidst all the smells down there and the water down there, did you get a sense that there was more cracking up here than just a little delayed response? What did you get a sense of the president's leadership down there?
DANIELS: I actually, I was struck that people did not blame President Bush. They like this guy. I think we're forgetting that -- the likeability factor. He's the same guy that was on 9-11 with the bullhorn. He hasn't changed, and people still relate to his character.
MATTHEWS: Which people are you talking about? The white folks still in the Quarter, or who are you talking about?
DANIELS: The white folks still in the Quarter, in the French Quarter. They are not blaming President Bush. They told me directly. They're blaming New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. But they are not blaming this man. They think he cares.
DANIELS: See, we're undermining him once again. It's a perfect condition for President Bush. We said it with Al Gore, we said it with John Kerry: This guy can't debate. This is the perfect storm for him, because it's actually going to work to his advantage.
MATTHEWS: Lisa, you first. You were down there. Will George Bush be haunted by New Orleans to the last day of his presidency?
DANIELS: Absolutely not. He's actually going to do better because there are such low expectations. You're all writing him off in Newsweek. He's gone.
MATTHEWS: Lisa, tell me something I don't know.
DANIELS: All right. Being down in New Orleans for two weeks, I think it's actually worse than the TV pictures actually show. But that said, expectations are so bad right now -- that it's going to take so long for the water to be pumped out, that there are 10,000 dead bodies there -- that this is actually, Howard [Fineman, fellow panelist], going to be a win for President Bush.
MATTEWS: Because there won't be 10,000 bodies?
DANIELS: Right. It's going to be much better.
MATTHEWS: They've lowballed it brilliantly.
DANIELS: And that's exactly what President Bush does best.