Panel on 'Andrea Mitchell Reports' All Agree GOP Has 'Trouble Talking to Women Voters'

It’s election season and MNSBC’s manufactured GOP “war on women” narrative is in full-swing across the network. Appearing on “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Wednesday March 19, the MSNBC host and her entire panel desperately attempted to create a controversy surrounding comments made by two Texas Republicans on the issue of equal pay for women.

Mitchell began the segment by proclaiming that “Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is making some news. He's getting attention for opposing equal pay legislation for women. And in fact, has reiterated, according to reports today, that he would not sign any legislation that would make it easier for women to sue for equal pay. When two of the state's Republican women leaders then tried to fix the problem, well some argue they made it worse.”  

At issue were comments made by two Texas women Beth Cubriel, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas, and Cari Christman. Curbriel argued that instead of supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, “Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators.”

Republican Cari Christman expressed similar sentiments when she argued that women “want more access to jobs. We want to be able to go to get a higher education degree. At the same time that we're working or raising a family. That's common sense. And we believe that that real world solution is a more practical way to approach the problem.”  

It seems as though MSNBC is taking their cues from Salon.com which expressed outrage over “another Republican official saying something offensive about women.” Mitchell seemed shocked that a Texas Republican would say the very same thing that her colleague Mika Brzezinski said in an interview with Forbes. Brzezinski has argued that women need to learn how to negotiate in a way that is comfortable for them.

Instead of noting this, Mitchell chose to mock Christman’s comments before introducing her three guests:

What can I say? We are extremely busy. Joining me now are very busy people for our “Daily Fix.” Chris Cillizza, MSNBC contributor and managing editor of PostPolitics.com and Susan Page, USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief and Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for MSNBC and Time. Susan first to you. I think you may be the busiest.

After the entire panel admitted that Democrat Wendy Davis is unlikely to become the next governor of Texas, Time’s Mark Halperin proceeded to argue that “Republicans have a huge problem with women. Not just because of gaffes or a failure to be articulate, but because a lot of the policies that they're selling have not done as well with women.” 

Mitchell then took a detour to lament that there are less abortion clinics in Texas, somehow a reflection that the GOP has a woman problem:

And Susan, when you get to some of the really serious policies, the Planned Parenthood issue, and some of the other health policies in Texas, they are down to now a handful of clinics that provide abortions. And state after state, but Texas in particular has been very aggressive in cutting back on access to health care for women without means. 

Page ignored Mitchell’s Planned Parenthood comments but did confirm the panel’s claim that the GOP has a gender problem:

It does reinforce a national problem that Republicans have had for a year or more. I mean, the Republicans continue to have trouble talking to women voters about issues that are of special concern to women in an articulate way and I don't understand why that is.

The segment concluded with Mitchell mentioning the 2012 election and how the GOP almost won the Senate if “not for language and not just policies, but the language used by several candidates. Missouri comes to mind and Indiana.” Unsurprisingly Halperin agreed with the assessment and asserted that “There's a real reason why Republicans have been doing worse with female voters. It's not just because women are just reflexively voting for a Democrat. They're being offered something that they find more appealing. Republicans have not picked the lock on that yet.

As of this publication, every single MSNBC broadcast on Wednesday March 19 has discussed the “controversy” over comments made by Texas women, including Mika Brzezinski pushing the lie that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Leave it to MSNBC to manufacture a controversy and to distort statements made by Republicans in order to push a false narrative that the GOP is engaged in a “war on women.”   

 

See relevant transcript below.


MSNBC

Andrea Mitchell Reports

March 19, 2014

12:20 p.m. Eastern

ANDREA MITCHELL: And Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is making some news. He's getting attention for opposing equal pay legislation for women. And in fact, has reiterated, according to reports today, that he would not sign any legislation that would make it easier for women to sue for equal pay. When two of the state's Republican women leaders then tried to fix the problem, well some argue they made it worse. 

BETH CUBRIEL: Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators. 

UNKNOWN PERSON: What's the solution then for equal pay, Cari? 

CARI CHRISTMAN: Well, if you look at it, women are extremely busy. We lead busy lives, whether working professionally, whether we're working from home. And times are extremely -- extremely busy. It's a busy cycle for women, and we've got a lot to juggle, and so when we look at this issue, we think, what's practical? And we want more access to jobs. We want to be able to go to get a higher education degree. At the same time that we're working or raising a family. That's common sense. And we believe that that real world solution is a more practical way to approach the problem. 

MITCHELL: What can I say? We are extremely busy. Joining me now are very busy people for our “Daily Fix.” Chris Cillizza, MSNBC contributor and managing editor of PostPolitics.com and Susan Paige, USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief and Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for MSNBC and Time. Susan first to you. I think you may be the busiest.

SUSAN PAIGE: I'm extremely busy. I'm not sure that's an answer to some question. I’m not sure it’s an answer to the question she was asked, which is what's the alternative to legislation—

MITCHELL: And what do you do with all business? 

PAGE: I'm extremely busy. And Mark Halperin I think is busy as well and Chris, but maybe not as busy as us. 

MITCHELL: Well, Chris Cilizza maybe you can explain what’s going on here. And according to Washington Post data 55%-plus of voters are now women. Is this a great strategy for Greg Abbott in Texas? 

CHRIS CILIZZA: The answer to that is obviously no, particularly when he is running against Wendy Davis, a woman. I would say this, Andrea. I went back and looked because I knew we were going to be talking about it. And I looked at the exit polling from 2010 in the Texas governor's race when Rick Perry beat Bill White, the former mayor of Houston. The vote was 50% women, 50% men. So evenly split in terms of the composition vote. Rick Perry actually won women by eight points, 53-55 over Bill White. If Wendy Davis has a path to victory, and I still think that's a big if, it quite clearly goes through moving that Bill White number at 45% way up, certainly winning a majority. Comments like this I think do probably help her do that, but again, this is Texas. I always remind people, it is at this point hard sledding for any Democratic candidate statewide. 

MITCHELL: And it's been hard sledding for Wendy Davis. There's no question that there have been mistakes in her campaign. Mark Halperin, there are many times when I sort of wish that Ann Richards was still among us. This is one of those times. 

MARK HALPERIN: Well, look, as Chris pointed out, the electorate would have to change dramatically. You don't normally see a swing in the electorate overall or within a particular group like women in just one election cycle. So Wendy Davis would have to run a near flawless campaign. Republicans around, Greg Abbott and probably Greg Abbott himself would have to make serious mistakes in order for this to matter. But it obviously goes to the larger point, that Republicans have a huge problem with women. Not just because of gaffes or a failure to be articulate, but because a lot of the policies that they're selling have not done as well with women. Now conservatives would say we just need to do a better job of explaining ourselves but then you get back to the inability in many instances you just showed for people to explain themselves clearly. 

MITCHELL: And Susan, when you get to some of the really serious policies, the Planned Parenthood issue, and some of the other health policies in Texas, they are down to now a handful of clinics that provide abortions. And state after state, but Texas in particular has been very aggressive in cutting back on access to health care for women without means. 

PAGE: You know, I think that's certainly true, and I don't think I agree that this gaffe doesn’t turns around the gubernatorial race. It is the Republicans to lose. It does reinforce a national problem that Republicans have had for a year or more. I mean, the Republicans continue to have trouble talking to women voters about issues that are of special concern to women in an articulate way and I don't understand why that is. The women who were being quoted in these interviews were in a group forum to respond to questions just like this. So I find it mystifying and I think the influence of this kind of thing, may be beyond Texas's border. And just making the point that women who are concerned about things like equal pay have questions for Republican candidates that so far have not really been effectively answered. 

MITCHELL: And this is not one of the, Chris Cilizza, this is not one of the social issues that might divide women by ideology or by religion or other kinds of conservative versus liberal divides. This is equal pay. We're getting to mainstream economic issues here. 

CILIZZA: And Andrea look, while I always say when I talk about Texas, the math is just very hard to add up for any Democrat. Wendy Davis or anyone else at the moment. I would say that the path to victory, quite clearly lies in winning vast majorities of the Hispanic vote, winning the African-American vote overwhelmingly. But also having to win white suburban women around Houston, Dallas-Ft.-Worth. Those are places you would have to really over-perform, where past Democrats, people like Tony Sanchez, Bill White, past Democratic gubernatorial nominees have done. Now I think Wendy Davis's status, sort of profile will help, the fact that she is a woman frankly will help. The question is can she over-perform what Democrats have traditionally done among women in the suburbs by enough that it makes up for what is just frankly a very difficult demographic equation for any Democrat in the state. 

MITCHELL: And Mark Halperin, there's no question that the Senate was within grasp of the Republicans the last time around, if not for language and not just policies, but the language used by several candidates. Missouri comes to mind and Indiana. 

HALPERIN: Well, there's no question. And look, in today's environment, gaffes can have a huge impact. But usually when they're connected to policies. And part of what the Republican Party has to do, again, not focusing on the Texas race, but nationally in particular thinking about 2016, in some of these competitive Senate races. How do you talk about your true principles in a way where you don't make gaffes, but you also appeal to women. There's a real reason why Republicans have been doing worse with female voters. It's not just because women are just reflexively voting for a Democrat. They're being offered something that they find more appealing. Republicans have not picked the lock on that yet. And while it costs them a few Senate races with gaffes, those candidates also had policies, Republicans and Democrats were able to exploit and point out to female voters that clearly hurt them. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.