‘Today Show’ host Matt Lauer chats with The Flat Hat

**Daily Press:** How is Virginia treating you?

**Matt Lauer:** I love Virginia. I lived here back a long time ago, when I was two or three years out of college. It was the 1980s and [I] actually used to come to Williamsburg. I used to go to Charlottesville and Ashland and all these places. So, I was saying to Colin Campell, the CEO of Colonial Williamsburg, that I hadn’t been here in probably in 15 or 20 years and it’s really nice to see that it has gotten better. They have done an incredible, incredible job here.

**DP:** Why did “The Today Show” choose Virginia as a place to come for election coverage?

**ML:** We’ve really kind of been looking at this [election] race on a state-to-state level for the last several months. And when we look at the states that are probably going to decide this race, [states] like Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia and Michigan jump right out because, in some cases, they have had a history of elections that have decided [the presidency]. In other cases, there is a big transition underway. Here in Virginia you have a history of voting for Republican Presidential candidates. Actually the last Democrat was Lyndon Johnson, but the demographic is changing in this state, and a lot of people moving in, especially up north, may shift this. So, 13 electoral votes, it’s an important state and if the demographic does shift it a little bluer than it’s been, it’s going to be a big deciding point.

**Flat Hat:** What issues do you think are going to be most important in Virginia?

**ML:** The same issue here that is [important] in every state in the country right now … is the economy. I mean, it’s number one; there is no question about that. Especially with what is going on on Wall Street right now with the bailout, but also here you’ve got a large number of veterans living in the state. You’ve got some 800,000 vets living in the state; you’ve got a huge military base over in Norfolk. So for the military, national security is a big issue here and it’s interesting because those two issues, if you look at national security it plays heavily in the favor of John McCain if you look at the polls. If you look at the economy, it’s a stronger issue for Barack Obama because of the troubles we’re in right now. Those key issues are going to help decide this race.

**The Virginia Informer:** Off the topic of politics, do you have any pre-on-air rituals?

**ML:** No. In the studio I have one dumb one, I don’t know why this happens. When you walk in the door of our studio, there are two ways to go. You can go to the anchor desk by walking over to the right, behind the news desk, or you can kind of take the long way around on the left. For some stupid reason everyday — I have done this show for 15 years — I’ve gone to the left around that other side, and I just always do it. Now, I consciously think, “That’s the way I’m going.” The other thing is when I arrive at the studio in the morning, I come in through a side entrance on 49th street and I always run up the stairs. I’ve kind of made this deal with myself that if the day comes that I can’t run up those stairs, that is the last day I do the show. These are dumb things that go on in my mind. I’ve even gone up when I’ve been sick. I’ll come in for the show and I’m really not feeling well and I still force myself to run up those stairs.

**FH:** I know you guys have a busy schedule but are you going to get a chance to visit William and Mary?

**ML:** You know I might swing by, but our plans have changed a little bit. We were going to take a later flight this afternoon in Norfolk but I think we decided now that I’m going to jump in a car right after the show and ride to Washington and take the shuttle back. It gets us home a lot faster. You know we’ve been traveling a lot the last eight weeks, so I’ve got three little ones at home and the earlier I can get home today would be a little bit better.


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