“GOP says HHS mandate is about liberty, not contraception. Dems say it’s about contraception, not liberty. Media accept and amplify Democratic framing.” So the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes adroitly tweeted noontime Sunday in an accurate observation demonstrated by Meet the Press where host David Gregory opened the roundtable: “I want to start with...a big theme in this race so far. And Politico, I thought, captured the headline here with this theme, ‘2012: The year of birth control moms?’”
Later, Gregory touted how “I see this bumper sticker,” which, he insisted, “we’ve heard everybody talk about,” that proclaims “GM’s back on top, and Osama bin Laden is dead.” Cuing up New York Times White House correspondent Helene Cooper, Gregory noted the obvious: “That’s the record that this President wants to run on.” Cooper affirmed: “That’s absolutely the record that he wants to run on.”
Following his roundtable opening set up with the “Year of Birth Control Moms,” Gregory, who earlier pressed guest Congressman Paul Ryan about how Republicans are alienating women, highlighted how liberal Senator Patty Murray, “wrote this based on that and also that all-male image of that contraception hearing”:
“I feel,” she wrote, “I woke up this morning on the set of Mad Men. Republicans have set their time machine for the 1950s – back when, according to one prominent Republican,” aforementioned, “women could just ‘put aspirin between their knees’ to avoid getting pregnant.”
NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell soon charged that “when Rick Santorum talks about theology and takes that shot at the President, which many people believe, including I think some moderate Republicans in those states, think crosses a line.”
Near the end of the program, Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, formerly the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Bureau Chief, recognized Obama’s poll numbers are going up not because his policies are being embraced but because Republicans are imploding, and so Obama’s re-election team has “really benefited because the Republicans, both in the presidential level and the congressional level, have wreaked havoc on the brand name. They could recover from that, but that’s why Obama’s doing so well, not because of anything he’s done.”
From the roundtable on the Sunday, February 19 Meet the Press, which included Republican strategist Ed Gillespie who got some opportunities to sneak in some conservative points:
DAVID GREGORY: And I want to talk, Andrea, I want to start with you with a big theme in this race so far. And Politico, I thought, captured the headline here with this theme, “2012: The year of ‘birth control moms’?” Is, I thought we were talking about the economy. And Paul Ryan wants to talk more about the economy, but the reality is, in the Republican race, social issues seem to be energizing the base and fueling Rick Santorum.
ANDREA MITCHELL: And the question is whether this is going to energize the base and help him win the primaries and perhaps go on to the nomination, although that is being hotly debated among Republican leaders, or whether this is really going to debilitate the Republican Party when they need in a general election to go up against Barack Obama and win independents, win suburban moms in both parties and women who generally accept birth control.
GREGORY: This aspirin business, Foster Friess, who’s a Santorum supporter, said to you on your program that the best means of birth control is putting a Bayer aspirin between your legs, which is kind of an old joke. He said a bad joke. Rick Santorum said it was a bad joke, distanced himself, and yet it sort of leads to that headline. And it leads to this, Ed Gillespie, which is a fundraising letter by the head of the Democratic Committee, senatorial re-election committee, Patty Murray, who wrote this based on that and also that all-male image of that contraception hearing. “I feel,” she wrote, “I woke up this morning on the set of Mad Men. Republicans have set their time machine for the 1950s – back when, according to one prominent Republican,” aforementioned, “women could just ‘put aspirin between their knees’ to avoid getting pregnant. This after Republicans opened a hearing on birth control – and banned women from testifying! We’ve already accumulated 65,000 signatures on our petition opposing their Aspirin Agenda. But I’m too mad to stop at ‘opposing.’ It’s time we punished the people responsible by taking away their jobs.” How do you see this?
GREGORY: I mean, also it takes on, Andrea, this role, too, I mean, where I mentioned this at the top of the program, Rick Santorum talking about a phony theology for President Obama?
MITCHELL: I was going to raise that point because Rick Santorum, when he sticks to the economy, as he did in his speech that should’ve been a victory speech in Iowa but actually was one of his best speeches and in some of his earlier appearances in New Hampshire, is a really strong candidate for those Rust Belt states and for the Republican Party for a general election. But when Rick Santorum talks about theology and takes that shot at the President, which many people believe, including I think some moderate Republicans in those states, think crosses a line. And when Rick Santorum, when you go through his record and some Republican leaders are concerned because he did say that he doesn’t believe that birth control is appropriate. I mean, there is a track record there. And so every time he veers into these social issues, I don't think it’s useful for him to energize the base. I think the base is willing to be energized because they’re so cool to Mitt Romney. I think it really hurts the Republican Party.
GREGORY: Let’s talk about the President’s record for a minute, Helene, because this is interesting. Here’s the numbers out of Michigan, which we’re talking so much about and that’s the unemployment rate. If you go back to September of 2009, a mind-boggling 14.3 percent. It’s not 9.3 percent, which, by the way, is still, oh, my gosh, high. I mean, it’s above the national average. The President, as we said in the open here, is talking about manufacturing coming back, that the auto bailouts worked. And I see this bumper sticker, right, that we’ve heard everybody talk about, which is, “GM’s back on top, and Osama bin Laden is dead.” I mean, that’s the record that this President wants to run on.
HELENE COOPER: That’s absolutely the record that he wants to run on. He’s gotten a big boost in the last few weeks with the, the national unemployment numbers that have come out that were far, far better than anybody expected. But at the same time, he’s still remarkably challenged in that there’s a lot of stuff happening around the world that could affect the economy in the months going forward. You have Europe and the European debt crisis which the White House is enormously worried about....
AL HUNT: To steal a line from Ann Richards, politically I think Barack Obama was born on third base in this season and he thinks he hit a triple. I mean, they have benefited because the jobless and unemployment numbers have been good. A lot of Democrats worry that could be a Prague Spring, it could head back up again. But they really benefited because the Republicans, both in the presidential level and the congressional level, have wreaked havoc on the brand name. They could recover from that, but that’s why Obama’s doing so well, not because of anything he’s done.