NBC's Mitchell: Barack the Charmer, Hillary the Heavy; Matthews Sees Rudy in Charge
Narrating the segment on the political duel between Obama and Hillary in Selma, Alabama this weekend, Andrea Mitchell portrayed Obama as having authentic appeal, while picturing Hillary resorting to heavy-handed political tactics.
Consider Mitchell's opening line: "On the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the historic clash over voting rights in Selma, Alabama, Barack Obama was supposed to be the main attraction, until Hillary Clinton, slipping in the polls to Obama among African-Americans, decided to come." Translation: a sinking Hillary tries to steal Barack's limelight. Not very flattering.
As Mitchell mentioned that Hillary had brought Bill because of his "enormous popularity with black voters," a clip rolled of a woman literally squealing in excitement and delight as Bill walked by in the parade. But doesn't that highlight Hillary's relative weakness as much as Bill's strength?
After stating that "Obama answered critics who say his mixed ancestry makes him not black enough," Mitchell rolled a clip of Obama speaking in a preacher's cadence as he told a church gathering: "don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody walked."
Compare and contrast Obama's strong -- versus Hillary's screeching -- pulpit performances here.
Mitchell, after noting that Obama's crowds were "much larger" than Clinton's when both spoke at black churches, then ran a clip of Jeh [sic] Johnson, whom the graphic described as a "former Clinton official and Barack Obama supporter." He predicted that there would be a "steady shift" from Clinton to Obama.
If things were already bad for Hillary, they began to get -- a lot -- worse. A clip of Hillary speaking in a church followed and the contrast with Obama's natural flair was painfully apparent. By her angry, grating tone you might have thought she was condemning Halliburton rather than talking about taking back the future.
Mitchell then declared that "the Clintons are fighting back." She stated that Cong. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, had been on the verge of endorsing Obama until he got a last-minute call from Bill Clinton getting him to hold off. Lewis was shown, stating "when I get a call from my friends, whether it's the president or the former president, I don't tend to disclose the nature of the call." Translation: yup, they muscled me.
Continued Andrea: "the competition is even rougher over money. The Clintons are telling Democrats to ante-up now, to increase her early fundraising advantage." Added Mitchell: "Clinton campaign manager Terry McAuliffe even joked, 'you're either with us or against us.'" Some joke. Shades of Pres. Bush warning countries regarding the war on terrorism.
Mitchell concluded with an assessment one can imagine had Hillary screaming for -- or at -- senior aide Howard Wolfson this morning: "Hillary Clinton had hoped to build her run for the nomination around the percepton that she is the inevitable candidate. Now that is not at all that clear." As bad as the segment was for Hillary, it could have been worse. Mitchell didn't make mention of the phony southern accent that Hillary laid on during her Selma visit. H/t reader motherbelt via Drudge.
When Chris Matthews was brought in, he seconded the notion that Obama is the candidate with the Big Mo, predicting Barack would catch Hillary in the polls by Memorial Day. He pointedly observed: "Robert Kennedy did not have to remind anybody that he was John's brother. Hillary has to keep reminding people for some reason that she's Bill's wife, and I think that could become a problem. Sooner or later she's going to have to lose the training wheels and ride on her own." Ouch.
Turning to the GOP side, Matthews described himself as "the least surprised" by Rudy's big lead in the polls. As the graphic indicated, Chris sees Rudy in charge. "I've been saying for years now Rudy is the toughest guy to beat. Because Republicans are the John Wayne party. They're different from the Democrats. They want a strong, tough, sometimes pushy [candidate]. They want a guy who's so strong . Someone you're afraid of. Rudy makes that standard. Rudy is a very strong candidate because Republicans want a leader to replace George Bush."
Then, talk about a smell test! When Meredith Vieira asked what Giuliani brings to the table in addition to his strong 9-11 performance, Matthews responded: "he cleaned up New York so you could walk in the subways without smelling urine. He cleaned it up so you could bring your kids around the streets at night. He made the city safe and clean -- and smell better. It was extraordinary what he did in that city." Chris definitely has odor removal on his mind. Should we start calling Rudy "Tidy Cat"?
Matthews, discounting the significance of Rudy's reputation for not being a nice guy, and of his messy personal and marital life, continued: "Republicans want very strong rule. And compared to the other guys running against him, Rudy is a guy with street cred, because he was there on the front lines of 9-11." [Think what you will of McCain but I'd say 5 years as a POW gives him some street cred, too]. Noting that crimes rates are going up in big East Coast cities, Matthews added "Rudy can hit the crime button in a way these other guys can't."
Vieira raised the story that emerged over the weekend of Rudy's son Andrew stating that while his father might make a great president, "I get my values from my mom," and that he had a strained, distant relationship with his father. She asked how the story would sit "with these conservative Christians?" [Which conservative Christians, Meredith? Matthews had never mentioned them.]
Matthews was in a forgiving mood: "nobody likes that kind of talk, but the fact is that we have a country under danger of another attack of terrorism. It could come any time, it could come three months from now, three years from now, three decades from now. But people want a guy on the street corner. You know, when you're riding a subway in the middle of the night you want a tough cop in that train. And that's Rudy's strength. He has a lot of weaknesses, but that's his strength."
ABC Update: Over at Good Morning America, Jake Tapper narrated a segment on the dueling Selma appearances of Hillary and Obama. On the one hand, he ran a clip of Hillary in the pulpit speaking in much more natural, less grating, tones than the ones on display in the "Today" segment. On the other, GMA had edited together a clip revealing the numerous times that Hillary during her remarks made reference to "my husband." Tapper also reported on facts embarrassing to both candidates. Observing that Hillary had been raised in Illinois, he mentioned that she "adopted a curious southern drawl during her speech to the Alabama crowd." Tapper also pointed out that Obama at one point over the weekend claimed that the 1965 Selma march had paved the way for his parents to meet and fall in love. Only problem -- Obama was born in 1961.
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