MSNBC: Hillary Supporter Wanting to ‘Strangle’ Fiorina Was ‘Sort of Funny’

Attempting to excuse Hillary Clinton laughing at one of her supporters wanting to “strangle” Carly Fiorina, NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell appeared on MSNBC’s 3 p.m. ET hour to offer up a defense of the harsh rhetoric: “He then told a very detailed story about having been an employee of HP and laid off and he had a lot of anger and upset about that...So he has a very direct personal relationship, if you will, to Fiorina as the CEO.”

O’Donnell added: “Somewhat different than what we sometimes see on the trail where people are making a kind of random comment. Clinton, of course, was in that moment where the cameras are on. It was sort of uncomfortable, it was sort of funny. And what do you do? So she responded and the room laughed and it seemed neutralized in the moment.”

Reciting Clinton talking points on the controversy, O’Donnell declared: “...her campaign says this was a joke. No one took him seriously. Meaning he wasn't actually threatening to strangle Fiorina. That it was sort of a, you know, a punch line that he was delivering.”

O’Donnell wrapped up her report with an indifferent tone: “So it's up for people to decide for themselves how important it is, what to make of it, but it is the nature of New Hampshire politics that you get these sorts of exchanges where the candidate doesn't know who will be in the audience or what they will say necessarily, they have to react quickly and sometime the reactions don't necessarily go to their benefit.”

Here is a full transcript of the November 10 segment:

3:33 PM ET

KATE SNOW: For the latest, I'm joined by NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, she’s covering the Clinton campaign in Derry, New Hampshire. Kelly, I want to start off, though, with a piece of sound, a little moment that’s getting some attention from New Hampshire today. Hillary Clinton taking a question from someone in the audience who was speaking about Carly Fiorina. Let's play that moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She laid off over 40,000 people and she says she's a great CEO. Every time I see her on TV I want to reach through and strangle her.

[LAUGHTER]

MAN: You know, I know that doesn't sound very nice, but –

[LAUGHTER]

HILLARY CLINTON: I wouldn't mess with you!

SNOW: So, Kelly, that was the response, “I wouldn't mess with you.” It's being picked up online. A lot of people looking at that moment.

KELLY O’DONNELL: Well, one of the things that's being pointed out, especially by Republicans, is that Democrats have often been critical when Republican candidates have not corrected someone they encounter along the campaign trail if they make a comment about perhaps Secretary Clinton or the President, and so it's sort of this search for parity. When are candidates supposed to sort of chastise the people they meet if they say things that aren't really politically correct or are inaccurate?

Now, I can give you a sense from being in that town hall, that man had spoken a couple of times. He had talked about himself being a Democrat, being upset if people criticize Clinton. He then told a very detailed story about having been an employee of HP and laid off and he had a lot of anger and upset about that for himself, for his colleagues. So he has a very direct personal relationship, if you will, to Fiorina as the CEO. Somewhat different than what we sometimes see on the trail where people are making a kind of random comment.

Clinton, of course, was in that moment where the cameras are on. It was sort of uncomfortable, it was sort of funny. And what do you do? So she responded and the room laughed and it seemed neutralized in the moment. But, of course, in the age we live in, Kate, that clip taken out, played, criticized, consumed by people who were not in the room, and it comes off differently. So at her next stop, her campaign was asked about it. Clinton didn't respond herself, but her campaign says this was a joke. No one took him seriously. Meaning he wasn't actually threatening to strangle Fiorina. That it was sort of a, you know, a punch line that he was delivering.

So it's up for people to decide for themselves how important it is, what to make of it, but it is the nature of New Hampshire politics that you get these sorts of exchanges where the candidate doesn't know who will be in the audience or what they will say necessarily, they have to react quickly and sometime the reactions don't necessarily go to their benefit. Kate?

SNOW: All right. Kelly O’Donnell, thanks so much.

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