NBC Pundit Donny Deutsch: 'If Republicans Were Smart,' They Would 'Move on Some of These Social Issues'

Wrapping up a panel discussion on Monday's NBC Today about Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman coming out in support of gay marriage, co-host Matt Lauer voiced suspicion about the timing of the announcement: "He has known his son is gay for the last two years, and yet, when he was there on the campaign trail supporting the Republican nominee, he never mentioned anything about this evolving stance on same-sex marriage." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Advertising executive Donny Deutsch replied: "The irony of that is, if the Republicans were smart, they would understand if they move on some of these social issues, it would actually help the party."

The discussion began with medical editor Nancy Snyderman praising former Arizona senator and Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater for moving to the left on the issue later in life: "[He] became sort of a centrist Republican and when, I think it was his nephew came out of the closet and said he was gay, Barry Goldwater believed that the Republican Party should be inclusive."

Snyderman diagnosed the motivation of Republicans like Portman and Goldwater: "I think what happens to a lot of these men is, 'Once it's in my family, tolerance starts to look a lot different.' And when his son, when Portman's son Will came out, that changed things." Deutsch chimed in: "I love it, everybody's an ideologue until it affects them....we are all ideologues until it's personal, and this is a classic example."

Attorney Star Jones asserted: "Well, as a Christian, your faith...is founded in the Word of God. But as a lawmaker, your actions should be grounded in the Constitution of the United States. So [Portman] should be making decisions as a lawmaker, and not be making decisions based on his faith."

On Friday's Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander broke the news of Portman's change by touting that he was "...now joining a growing list of Republicans to come out in support of gay marriage..."


Here is a full transcript of the March 18 panel discussion:

8:12AM ET

MATT LAUER: This next story got a lot of attention over the weekend. Senator Rob Portman, a prominent Republican senator who was considered to be on the short list as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in the last election, has now decided that he has changed his stance on the issue of same-sex marriage. He now supports it after years after being oppose to it. The reason is very personal. He says he has a gay son and he wants that son to have all the same rights as anyone else when it comes to marriage. What strikes you about this story?

DONNY DEUTSCH: I love this-

NANCY SNYDERMAN: Barry Goldwater.

LAUER: Explain.

SNYDERMAN: It really takes me back. Barry Goldwater was – frankly became sort of a centrist Republican and when, I think it was his nephew came out of the closet and said he was gay, Barry Goldwater believed that the Republican Party should be inclusive. I think what happens to a lot of these men is, "Once it's in my family, tolerance starts to look a lot different." And when his son, when Portman's son Will came out, that changed things.

DONNY DEUTSCH: I love it, everybody's an ideologue until it affects them.

SNYDERMAN: Right.

DEUTSCH: I always like to give the analogy, you say, "Are you for torture, are you for water boarding? Well, no. Well, how about if torture and water boarding would stop your child from dying the next day? Well, of course I would." So we are all ideologues until it's personal, and this is a classic example.

STAR JONES: Well, as a Christian, your faith is founded-

DEUTSCH: Charismatic Christian.  

JONES: Your faith is founded in the Word of God. But as a lawmaker, your actions should be grounded in the Constitution of the United States. So he should be making decisions as a lawmaker, and not be making decisions based on his faith.
 
LAUER: Does the timing of this strike anyone? I mean, he has known his son is gay for the last two years, and yet, when he was there on the campaign trail supporting the Republican nominee, he never mentioned anything about this evolving stance on same-sex marriage. Now the election is over and he does.

JONES: Because he was still being considered, probably, for a vice presidential candidate.

DEUTSCH: The irony of that is, if the Republicans were smart, they would understand if they move on some of these social issues, it would actually help the party.

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