On CNN, Politico's Haberman Finds Clinton 'Houses' Not 'Consequential' Unlike Romney 'Gaffes'

Appearing as a guest on Tuesday's New Day on CNN, Politico senior political writer Maggie Haberman laid down the groundwork for the media to show a double standard in not taking issue with Hillary Clinton's wealth as opposed to Republican Mitt Romney who was repeatedly hounded in 2012 as the dominant media grasped at straws to identify "gaffes" to paint him as "out of touch." The Politico writer also bolstered Clinton's attempt to preempt campaign questions about Benghazi by seeming to predict the strategy would have some effectiveness.

Haberman argued that Clinton's claim that she and husband former President Clinton were "broke" after they left the White House as they were purchasing multiple "houses" would not be a "consequential" gaffe because it does not fit "an existing narrative" of the former First Lady, unlike in the case of Romney. Haberman began:

I think she handled the interview extremely well, with the exception of that houses answer about income. I think that's the one thing I think she'd do over. I also don't think it's consequential that she said that. It will be meaningless in a couple of weeks. This was a very well done rollout, and in her first interview, she seemed more relaxed, she seemed open, she seemed genuine.

She soon bolstered Democrats by predicting that the eventual Democratic nominee will benefit from the policy positions the party is likely to take:

She certainly roams in another circle, but it's going to be how she frames the policy issues, and I just have to think just the way that these policy fights have gone, I think the person who is the Democratic nominee is probably going to be in a position in terms of policy where it's going to be harder for the Republicans to define her this way.

Haberman did not acknowledge the role the media plays in creating and adding to an ongoing "narrative" about a public figure as she recalled Romney's alleged "gaffes." Haberman:

These gaffes that Mitt Romney made, for instance, there were a lot of comparisons -- I made them myself on Twitter yesterday and some of the errors that Romney made. But the Romney gaffes fed into an existing narrative. There is not such an existing narrative that she's out of touch. That's how Republicans are trying to define her. She can get around that, but she does have to be wary of those moments. She had one a couple of weeks ago, too.

After CNN co-anchor Chris Cuomo alluded to the Benghazi debacle, Haberman strengthened Clinton's attempt to preempt the issue. Cuomo posed:

Now, one thing I do think she will be taken to task on, and it's a legitimate basis for criticism, and it's emerging, we're seeing, with more and more leaders: I take responsibility, but I want no accountability. How do you think that balance played off in the interview? Because Diane wasn't joking around -- Sawyer. She was pressing and coming out with layers of questioning.

Haberman began:

This is going to be an issue that Hillary Clinton is going to be asked about repeatedly, and for her critics, the answer is not going to satisfy them. For people who don't think Benghazi is an issue, they think this is enough to move on. The accountability piece is a very important one, the being responsible piece is a very important one.

But she dismissively added:

In terms of the specifics of Benghazi, though, and I think that's what this gets to, I think that is not going to be a definitional issue in terms of what voters base their decision on. If she runs, it will be an issue that people can use to hit her. I think it is something voters may find confusing, they want more answers on. But, at the end of the day, I think that she laid out and she was really clear in her book book on this: I am done talking about this, critics are turning this into a partisan football. And so now any question that gets asked about it is sort of in that frame of either left or right. 

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Tuesday, June 10, New Day on CNN:

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: I think she handled the interview extremely well, with the exception of that houses answer about income. I think that's the one thing I think she'd do over. I also don't think it's consequential that she said that. It will be meaningless in a couple of weeks. This was a very well done rollout, and in her first interview, she seemed more relaxed, she seemed open, she seemed genuine.

That line about how she's not worried about people judging her from this side or that side, I'm just done, she sounded convincing. We're going to see over the next couple of week whether that's true. But certainly this is a much more relaxed, at ease Hillary Clinton than we've seen in a long time in terms of politics.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CO-HOST: On that, on the issue of paying for the "houses," "mortgages," how does she -- I mean, Republican Chair Reince Priebus and other Republicans jumping on it saying "out of touch with middle class Americans," and is there any validity to that, that she does roam in another circle? And how does she fight that in the coming months?

HABERMAN: She certainly roams in another circle, but it's going to be how she frames the policy issues, and I just have to think just the way that these policy fights have gone, I think the person who is the Democratic nominee is probably going to be in a position in terms of policy where it's going to be harder for the Republicans to define her this way.

These gaffes that Mitt Romney made, for instance, there were a lot of comparisons -- I made them myself on Twitter yesterday and some of the errors that Romney made. But the Romney gaffes fed into an existing narrative. There is not such an existing narrative that she's out of touch. That's how Republicans are trying to define her. She can get around that, but she does have to be wary of those moments. She had one a couple of weeks ago, too.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CO-HOST: Well, a whole lot of regular people running for higher office, you know, depending on how you want to define "regular." Now, one thing I do think she will be taken to task on, and it's a legitimate basis for criticism, and it's emerging, we're seeing, with more and more leaders. I take responsibility, but I want no accountability. How do you think that balance played off in the interview? Because Diane wasn't joking around, Sawyer. She was pressing and coming out with layers of questioning.

HABERMAN: This is going to be an issue that Hillary Clinton is going to be asked about repeatedly, and for her critics, the answer is not going to satisfy them. For people who don't think Benghazi is an issue, they think this is enough to move on. The accountability piece is a very important one, the being responsible piece is a very important one.

In terms of the specifics of Benghazi, though, and I think that's what this gets to, I think that is not going to be a definitional issue in terms of what voters base their decision on. If she runs, it will be an issue that people can use to hit her. I think it is something voters may find confusing, they want more answers on. But, at the end of the day, I think that she laid out and she was really clear in her book book on this: I am done talking about this, critics are turning this into a partisan football. And so now any question that gets asked about it is sort of in that frame of either left or right.