Andrea Mitchell Knocks Bernie’s Black Endorsements, Argues Reagan Democrats Were Racists

In an otherwise dull and abbreviated evening of live coverage on Saturday night dedicated to the South Carolina Democratic Primary, MSNBC host/NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell touted the argument an anonymous former Democratic governor that Reagan Democrats were actually ardent backers of segregationist George Wallace. 

Before that and not long after the network officially projected Clinton’s landslide win, Mitchell observed that there was a “disparity” between “his African-American surrogates and hers” with Clinton having Congressman Jim Clyburn (S.C.) and John Lewis (Ga.) while Sanders has “Killer Mike appealing to young people, the rappers, but also, Cornel West, who disagrees strongly with Barack Obama.”

Mitchell appeared intermittently throughout the three-hour coverage with hosts Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams and shortly after Clinton’s victory speech, she predicted that until she becomes the official Democratic nominee, she will stay clear of focusing on Trump. 

“I don't see her directly going after him. First of all, is presumptive, she's not the nominee. She's saying she'll fight for every vote, taking nobody and nothing for granted and also because look what happens to people who challenge Donald Trump,” Mitchell noted. 

When talking about Trump, however, she invoked something she found intriguing told to her by “a former Democratic Governor of Michigan” (so either James Blanchard or Jennifer Granholm as those are the only two living people who’d fit the bill) that Reagan Democrats will flock to Donald Trump instead of Bernie Sanders to what this person perceived as a similarity to pro-segregation Democrat George Wallace: 

I was talking to a former Democratic Governor of Michigan who said, remember those Reagan Democrats? And I said might they respond to Bernie Sanders in his blue-collar appeal, his working class appeal, income inequality, and they — he said, no, because you have to register to vote in Michigan, but on the day of the primary, you can choose your party and they are going to be Trump voters. He said, the Reagan Democrats, many of them were George Wallace Democrats, and that there is an undercurrent of race in a lot of what we have been hearing on the campaign, the protest vote and that could be part of it as well.

In a third and final point of interest that this writer plucked from the proceedings, disgraced former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams wondered to White House correspondent Kristen Welker at Clinton’s victory rally if she could describe “[h]ow large a press corps” is traveling with Clinton. 

Welker mentioned that the Clinton campaign has naturally grown larger as the race moves along, but the press following “keeps getting bigger” as “when we first started, it was very easy for us to access the candidate” but now there are so many “that there are too many of us to fill up a press plane, if that gives you a sense of just how many reporters are covering this campaign.”

“It could, of course, be an historic campaign, if she were to win the nomination. She would be the first woman to do so, so there is a lot of interest,” she added.

Earlier on this site, contributing writer Mark Finkelstein took notice to Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd largely brushing off the significance that a potential misdemeanor charge for Clinton regarding her e-mail scandal down the road (if the FBI decides to do so).

(h/t: Brent Baker)

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s The Place for Politics 2016 on February 27 can be found below.

MSNBC’s The Place for Politics 2016
February 27, 2016
7:09 p.m. Eastern

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Kristen, a question about mechanics. How large a press corps does Secretary Clinton have now? And have you seen any change in it? And I'm wondering if it will change after tonight. 

KRISTEN WELKER: It keeps getting bigger, Brian. To give you a little bit of color on that point, when we first started, it was very easy for us to access the candidate. There were a handful of us, really, following her around on a regular basis. Now there are several dozen of us. So many, in fact, that there are too many of us to fill up a press plane, if that gives you a sense of just how many reporters are covering this campaign. It could, of course, be an historic campaign, if she were to win the nomination. She would be the first woman to do so. So there is a lot of interest, but her campaign has expanded as well, as she has continued along this path, adding new advisers, and undoubtedly, that is reflected in the press corps as well, Brian. Again, her supporters fired up tonight, very excited to hear what she has to say to them.

(....)

7:12 p.m. Eastern

ANDREA MITCHELL: One other thing I would point out, in appealing to African-American voters, the disparity between his surrogates, his African-American surrogates and hers. She had Jim Clyburn. Going forward to Georgia, she's got the icon of the civil rights era, John Lewis. He's had Killer Mike appealing to young people, the rappers, but also, Cornel West, who disagrees strongly with Barack Obama and what we see in these exit polls is a very warm embrace of the Obama policies. Being close to President Obama is a big factor in Hillary Clinton's SEC primaries going forward to March 1st. 

(....)

8:24 p.m. Eastern

WILLIAMS: Coming off the strength of South Carolina tonight, Andrea, we really get to find out now what this Clinton machine runs on and how much mileage they've got. 

MITCHELL: And she did a glancing swipe at him tonight in talking about the quality of the rhetoric and appealing to our better angels and talking about the fact we don't need to make America great again, we need to make America whole again which is something that Bill Clinton has been saying on the campaign trail. But I don't see her directly going after him. First of all, is presumptive, she's not the nominee. She's saying she'll fight for every vote, taking nobody and nothing for granted and also because look what happens to people who challenge Donald Trump. The last thing they want is him going after her and imagine the two of them on a debate stage in what he could do because of the way he talks over you, ridicules you, the insults. This could be a real problem for, I agree entirely with Chuck, you were talking about the Trump appeal and how that might reach across party lines. I was talking to a former Democratic Governor of Michigan who said, remember those Reagan Democrats? And I said might they respond to Bernie Sanders in his blue-collar appeal, his working class appeal, income inequality, and they — he said, no, because you have to register to vote in Michigan, but on the day of the primary, you can choose your party and they are going to be Trump voters. He said, the Reagan Democrats, many of them were George Wallace Democrats, and that there is an undercurrent of race in a lot of what we have been hearing on the campaign, the protest vote and that could be part of it as well. What I heard tonight from Hillary Clinton, though, was that she, first of all, she mentioned Flint, Michigan, in our debate as a closing statement. It was the first time it was mentioned in the campaign. That was a direct appeal. January 17th to the South Carolina moms, the African-American women of South Carolina and that's where she started appealing to them.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center