On Monday’s Rachel Maddow Show, the MSNBC host mocked Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the white vote, reporting Romney told USA Today that President Obama moved toward welfare waivers “as a calculation that was designed to shore up the Obama base before the election.” Maddow thought it was ridiculous: “As if people on welfare are Barack Obama’s base. [Maddow winks] Especially the lazy ones. [Winks again]” Government dependents never vote to keep their government money coming?
Then Maddow turned to former New York Times columnist and NBC reporter Bob Herbert, who said Romney has a “campaign that doesn’t have a theme,” so Romney’s just saying “white people, please vote for me,” because he’s white. “You can’t win an election if that’s all you’ve got going for you.” Maddow said the GOP’s almost all-white:
MADDOW: The new Pew numbers say in terms of self-identified Republicans, it’s 89 percent white now, and the calculus the Romney campaign appears to be making is if they can maximize that vote, if they can maximize the white vote by any means necessary, maybe they can win with nobody else supporting them -- which means we’re about to find out if you can win a presidential election in this country in the year 2012, by deliberately running against minority voters.
Joining us now is Bob Herbert. He’s a distinguished senior fellow at Demos, a progressive policy think tank and advocacy group. Bob, thank you for being here.
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: How are you, Rachel?
MADDOW: I hear you reacting to the way I was laying that out. Is it because you can’t believe they’re doing this? Or do you think that their reasoning is faulty?
HERBERT: You know, Mitt Romney has so many problems. He’s an unappealing candidate. He’s not a very good politician, and he’s running a campaign without a message. It’s a campaign that doesn’t have a theme. So what he’s essentially doing is going all over the place, saying, you know, white people, please vote for me. It’s the only route that he and his advisers see to an electoral victory this November.
But, you know, I think -- I think in 2012, in the 21st century, you can’t win an election if that’s the only thing that you’ve got going for you. I still think that racial appeals work. I still think that there is -- there are a fair number of people in this country who -- a fair number of whites who are hostile to blacks, who do not want a black president. I don’t think it’s anything close to a majority of whites.
Herbert pretended that Romney has absolutely no proposals to develop jobs, nothing to offer to middle-class voters except the white man's appeal to racism:
HERBERT: So if he needs to attract white votes to win this election and he does, it would seem to me that what would be better is to try to put forth a campaign that honestly appeals to the concerns of white voters in this country. You could start with having a plan to develop jobs, having a plan to build a stronger economy, and that sort of thing. And especially if they’re talking about middle class white voters, because I think that is a crucial voting bloc.
So, if you’re talking about middle class suburban voters, for example, I don’t believe they like racist appeals. I don’t think they like extremist appeals of the right or the left. You know, so it just seems to me that it’s not a great strategy.