The second half of Meet the Press was a mini-roundtable with John Harwood and Chuck Todd. This exchange was odd:
MR. CHUCK TODD: Well, there’s no Republican front-runner, and until we find out how badly Mitt Romney wins–loses Iowa, and I think that that’s the assumption they’re under at this point, that, that they’re…
MR. JOHN HARWOOD: You called it already?
MR. TODD: They know that–they’re worried they’re going to lose Iowa, but they’re trying to close the gap. They’re trying to close this gap so that they look like they at least have a running start to salvage New Hampshire. Because their bigger fear right now, the Romney people are absolutely petrified of John McCain. He is on the rise.
Team Romney is telling Chuck Todd that they’re worried they’re going to lose Iowa? And that they’re “absolutely petrified” of John McCain?
Three possibilities here.
1) Some Romney strategist finds it therapeutic to share his anxieties with the political director of NBC News, shortly before he appears on Meet the Press, blithely unconcerned about the creation of “Romney’s toast in Iowa and looking bad in New Hampshire” buzz right before the media environment freezes for several days over the holidays.
2) It’s expectations management.
3) It’s an overstatement of obvious and natural concern in the wake of Huckabee’s rise and signs that McCain is set to do well in New Hampshire.