Obsessing over Sarah Palin's pro-life position on abortion, MSNBC hosts and reporters on Tuesday night repeatedly raised it and painted it as a detriment to Republicans even though last week with Democrats the channel did not similarly pursue how a solidly left view on abortion might hurt Obama and Biden. By the count of the MRC's Geoff Dickens, between 8 PM and midnight EDT, MSNBC raised abortion at least 16 times, twice with an edge that painted the GOP position as extreme by applying a “hard right” label. Chris Matthews declared “they are going hard right on abortion rights” and later David Gregory asserted: “The abortion platform here is pretty hard right.”
Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, fretted over how “this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is” that “these delegates are more conservative than even the ones four years ago.” Andrea Mitchell described Palin as “very conservative” and pressed a Republican Congressman: “Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?”
Matthews bemoaned to Tom Ridge that “it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?” To Tim Pawlenty, Matthews demanded:
Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party?
Highlights from MSNBC's Tuesday, September 2 coverage of the Republican convention, as gathered by Geoff:
ANDREA MITCHELL TO PENNSYLVANIA REP. JOE PITTS (8:12 PM EDT):
Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?
TOM BROKAW AND CHUCK TODD (8:20 PM EDT):
TOM BROKAW: And the Republican Party platform, which was passed under the direction of Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, he said they reached out across the country electronically, and otherwise, to put together the platform. When it came to abortion, no exceptions. Rape, incest, didn’t make any difference, they were opposed to abortion. That is Senator, pardon men, Governor Palin’s position as well but it has not been John McCain’s position.
CHUCK TODD: Well what’s interesting is that Gary Bauer, the onetime presidential candidate, was, was John McCain’s representative on the platform trying to, trying to soothe everything. And they made the decision not to fight these delegates here on this issue. Senator McCain, this platform does not represent Senator McCain’s conservatism. He did not make it his party’s platform. He made it the Republican Party platform, that he happens to be representing. Stark contrast to Barack Obama who went ahead, changed the wording on abortion, put in a line in there that made pro-life Democrats a little more comfortable. That was not done here. If anything this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is this. These delegates are more conservative -- I had, I had -- than, than even the ones four years ago. Than even the ones eight years ago. I had a state chair tell me that people ran to be John McCain’s delegates in places like Michigan and Ohio, after the process, and they were more conservative than the people they were replacing. He’s like, this guy goes, “They aren’t John McCain Republicans, they just came here."
MITCHELL TO SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (8:23 PM EDT):
I’m with Arlen Specter of course. Senator you represent a lot of pro-choice women, a lot of liberals, how does Sarah Palin play among your constituents in Pennsylvania?
CHRIS MATTHEWS (8:35 PM EDT):
Bottom line here, they are going hard right on abortion rights.
RACHEL MADDOW: Yes they are bringing back the most divisive social wedge issue that we’ve got and they are going double-down on it.
[PAT BUCHANAN noted Obama is “hard left” on abortion]
MATTHEWS: And then, and then, but Pat it’s further than that. It is further because, not taking any position on this, they are taking a stronger position. Governor Palin supports the abolition of abortion as a right, period! She doesn’t just say, throw it back to the states. She says, “If I got any say in this we’re gonna outlaw it.” Right? Isn’t that true?
DAVID GREGORY TO CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN (8:49 PM EDT):
Does this convention represent a move to the center?
You may be talking about governing, but as a matter of campaigning he’s moved to the right. The abortion platform here is pretty hard right when it comes to the abortion question with which you have some disagreement, I think, with the party still.
CHRIS MATTHEWS TO TOM RIDGE (9:02 PM EDT):
Governor Ridge the moderate wing of the Republican Party is atrophying right now as you watch on television. Sununu’s got a tough race facing him. There’s one Republican left in the entire New England delegation of Congress. You’re under fire, you’re getting smaller and smaller. And tonight it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?
MITCHELL TO CARLY FIORINA, FORMER CEO OF HEWLETT-PACKARD (9:04 PM EDT):
Now she is more socially conservative than a lot of independent women and a lot of Democratic women, Hillary Clinton women. You were trying to reach out to Hillary Clinton women. And what would be the appeal here of Sarah Palin for someone who believes in choice and who, you know, doesn’t believe in her views on creationism, intelligent design. She is very conservative, socially.
MATTHEWS TO MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY (9:27 PM EDT):
Well let ask you about this, this whole question of the culture of the Republican Party. Both political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to win the presidency have to win a majority support of the country, something like 50 percent to win. Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party? Is it gonna work?
MATTHEWS ON ABORTION WITH REP. HEATHER WILSON, OLBERMANN REBUTS WILSON (11:46 PM EDT):
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the very tricky issue or troubling concern of abortion rights. Did it surprise you, that, that came up a number of times tonight? And do you think that will create enough of a majority, going into the election, this November, for the Republican candidates?
REP. HEATHER WILSON: Well the Republican Party is pro-life and, and I think that’s an important issue for a lot of folks in the Republican Party. It’s also a big contrast with Senator Obama, who is not only pro-choice, or, or but has taken some votes including in the Illinois State Senate against, you know, the Born Alive Act, which is, to me, just incomprehensible. And I, so, so there’s a very big difference for folks. And it’s important to Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Tell us about that issue, the Born Alive vote, back in the early part of this century, 2002, 2003. What was that about? Why is that worthy of note tonight and Senator Thompson raised that in his discussion, in his speech tonight.
WILSON: Because what it said was if a child, if someone, if someone tries to abort a child and the child, rather than being aborted and born dead, is born alive, then they should be given medical assistance. And it came out of a case where a nurse held a baby while the baby died and was prohibited from providing any life support to that child. And it was just wrong. And it’s, and it’s, it’s, and Senator Obama said, “No let them die.” And I, I just find that to be deeply troubling. Very, very troubling and I think a lot of people here did tonight. It’s something that really goes to the core of what being pro-life is about.
MATTHEWS: How do you square that deep concern about life and opposition abortion with hosting Joe Lieberman tonight, a very strong supporter of abortion rights, at your convention?
OLBERMANN: To be fair to Senator Obama, Representative Wilson was not complete in that context of what she said. Senator Obama, at no point, said, “Let them die.” What he, his argument was, in voting against that measure in the Illinois state legislature, was that extant law, the laws that were already on the books in Illinois, fully covered that horrific situation. And I believe Representative Wilson knows that.