Romney Won the Last Debate? On MSNBC, They Can't Believe Anyone Could Be 'That Stupid'

On Tuesday's edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show, all but official Obama campaign surrogates Ed Schultz and Richard Wolffe discussed the third and final presidential debate. Both declared the president a clear winner and insulted the intelligence of anyone who would disagree. Failing to recognize the irony of what they were doing for Obama, Schultz criticized the Romney campaign for declaring victory -- as if it defied all logic.

"Romney's camp is spinning last night as a victory for him," he said. "What about that? I mean, do they really think the American people are that stupid?" [ video below, MP3 audio available here ]

In response to the loaded question, the former Newsweek correspondent and current executive editor of MSNBC.com turned it around on the 'right-wing' media.

No, they think the press is that stupid. And frankly, when the media stops having polls to report on, they end up reporting on body language. This is the worst time for any reporter out on the campaign trail. There's no events, there's no more news and all you've got is this kind of spin. You know, when the campaign goes out there and says we're going to lose, that's news.

Prior to that, Wolffe modified an old saying from Bill Clinton to describe how the two candidates performed -- flattering President Obama in the process.

I think what we saw last night was when Bill Clinton said 'strong and wrong beats weak and right. Last night we had weak and wrong against strong and right. It was the projection of weakness that we saw from Mitt Romney, both on the substance and in the way he was changing his policies that I think was the hardest piece of him. People don't understand the policy of foreign policy. They do understand character...

In other words, Obama is apparently the more virtuous and capable of the two. There's simply no debating that in their minds. Considering everything that has happened over the last four years, do they really think the American people are that stupid?

Relevant Transcript Below (emphasis mine)

MSNBC

The Ed Show

Oct. 23, 2012

8:08 p.m. EDT

ED SCHULTZ: Joining me tonight is Richard Wolffe, MSNBC political analyst and executive editor of MSNBC.com. Well Richard, we've got a number of different things that all of a sudden Mitt Romney agrees with President Obama on, but the one most glaring last night was Afghanistan. Will this have an impact in the final two weeks?

RICHARD WOLFFE: Well, let's just remember just how much of a back flip-flop he does last night. He's a guy that said no timeline, but he has a timeline without an end date. Suddenly we have an end date. Normal candidates do not try and release new policies in debates. We've seen it now in three debates that he's tried to do this. Yes, it's great that the president throws it out there, and tries to point out these changes -- last-minute reversals. But more than that, I think what we saw last night was when Bill Clinton said 'strong and wrong beats weak and right'. Last night we had weak and wrong against strong and right. It was the projection of weakness that we saw from Mitt Romney, both on the substance and in the way he was changing his policies that I think was the hardest piece of him. People don't understand the policy of foreign policy. They do understand character, and I think that's what we saw last night.

SCHULTZ: Well, what unfolded earlier in the debate was Benghazi. For the last month and a half, we've heard the conservatives say that there's a conspiracy, there was a cover-up, that the administration is not being forthcoming with the American people. Romney had a shot, again. Why didn't he take it?

WOLFFE: Well, because he got crushed the week before. He could have re-litigated. Frankly, I expected him to re-litigate it. But his strategy, as far as anyone could tell, was to hug the president, one big group session and say you know I'm like him only more so. That's the kind of position you have when you think you are winning this race. You don't want to mess up. It's an incredible reversal, because really that's where the president was in the first debate. We saw how badly that turned out for him. If you think you have a three-point lead and that's going to carry you all the way through, you end up doing this kind of stupid tactic and that looks bad because there's no difference between you.

SCHULTZ: And Romney's camp is spinning last night as a victory for him. What about that? I mean, do they really think the American people are that stupid?

WOLFFE: No, they think the press is that stupid. And frankly, when the media stops having polls to report on, they end up reporting on body language. This is the worst time for any reporter out on the campaign trail. There's no events, there's no more news and all you've got is this kind of spin. You know, when the campaign goes out there and says we're going to lose, that's news.

SCHULTZ: Right-wing media is doing a spin job. Check out Fox News' assessment of Romney's performance.

GRETCHEN CARLSON: Was it decisive for you?

BILL O'REILLY: No. He didn't win the debate.

CARLSON: So President Obama won the debate?

O'REILLY: No. Nobody won.

STEVE DOOCY: It was a draw.

O'REILLY: It was boring, it was so boring. It was the most boring debate I have ever seen.

SCHULTZ: What's that tell you?

WOLFFE: Well, 59 million people watched it so maybe they thought there was something interesting in there. You know, there was a massive role reversal. For decades, Republicans have said we are strong on foreign policy and defense. We know where we stand. You may not agree with us, but you know where we stand. That was the whole Bush premise. What we saw last night is we have no idea where Mitt Romney stands. The president, you may disagree with his Afghan policy or any other piece of it. But in terms of projecting strength, it was a total role reversal for Democrats in particular.

SCHULTZ: I thought he was going to revert back to Dick Cheney highlight films, and say we're not on a war footing. We're not as safe as we used to be. I mean, he could've pulled out the old rhetoric and maybe slipped it past a lot of people. Why didn't he take that direction?

WOLFFE: Well you know, the president doesn't like the whole politics of fear. I don't know that Mitt Romney -- when you saw him come up with the details about Mali and the terrorist threat in Mali or the state of the Navy in the First World War, you know this is a guy who has been cramming on the briefing books and has no real plan.

SCHULTZ: Richard Wolffe, great to have you with us, thanks so much.

8:12 a.m. EDT