NBC's Mitchell Rants: Romney Using 'Dog Whistle' Language Against Obama

On her 1 p.m. et hour show on MSNBC on Tuesday, host and NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell decried Mitt Romney labeling President Obama's big-government philosophy "foreign" to American capitalism: "...he is still using the term 'foreign' and I'm telling you, this is happening every day, it is a dog whistle." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd attempted to talk Mitchell down: "...to take him [Romney] at face value – it's about trying to paint the President as out of touch, that he doesn't have the experience....out of touch about the American economy, that he doesn't understand how capitalism works." Mitchell refused to accept that explanation: "Out of touch is out of touch....Foreign is suggesting somebody who grew up in Indonesia....I'm telling you....words matter."

Todd suggested: "I think people hear what they want to hear on this." The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza agreed and added: "I'm not in Mitt Romney's head. I can't say why he is using the word 'foreign.'"

However, Cillizza did suggest it may be a pattern of the Romney campaign: "I would say look, we had last week John Sununu, a prime, a very prominent surrogate, former New Hampshire governor, of Mitt Romney, saying he doesn't understand what it's like to be an American. Now, John Sununu later recanted because I think they understood that was kind of a bridge too far. But the context of those things-" Mitchell interjected: "Context matters."


Here is a transcript of the July 24 exchange:

1:05PM ET

(...)

ANDREA MITCHELL: And this is Mitt Romney with CNBC's Larry Kudlow yesterday.

MITT ROMNEY: It's a very strange, and in some respects, foreign to the American experience type of philosophy. If you have a business and you started it, you did build it, and you deserve credit for that. It was not built for you by government.

MITCHELL: Without getting into the argument as to whether he is taking the President out of context over the "build it" business, he is still using the term "foreign" and I'm telling you, this is happening every day, it is a dog whistle.

CHUCK TODD: No, I've gotten a lot of – a lot of tweets about this, a lot of e-mails. People saying, "What's he doing? Why does he keep doing that? Is he dog whistling?"

MITCHELL: Well, what do you think he's doing?

TODD: And it is about – to take him at face value – it's about trying to paint the President as out of touch, that he doesn't have the experience, that it's all about...

MITCHELL: Out of touch is out of touch. Foreign is...

TODD: ...out of touch about the American economy, that he doesn't understand how capitalism works.

MITCHELL: Foreign is suggesting somebody who grew up in Indonesia, who's...

TODD: Look, I hear you.

MITCHELL: I'm telling you...

CHRIS CILLIZZA: Here's the problem, Andrea, from my perspective...

TODD: I think people hear what they want to hear on this.

MITCHELL: ...words matter.

CHRIS CILLIZZA: It's what you would like to hear. It is hard for Chuck and I to say Mitt Romney means 'X.' And I think that's what's hard for people to get around. I'm not in Mitt Romney's head. I can't say why he is using the word "foreign." I would say look, we had last week John Sununu, a prime, a very prominent surrogate, former New Hampshire governor, of Mitt Romney, saying he doesn't understand what it's like to be an American. Now, John Sununu later recanted because I think they understood that was kind of a bridge too far. But the context of those things-

MITCHELL: Context matters.

CILLIZZA: Yes.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC