Andrea Mitchell Gushes Over Bill Clinton Hitting Campaign Trail for Hillary

On Monday, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell hosted her 12 p.m. ET hour show live from a Hillary Clinton campaign event, happily announcing: “I'm Andrea Mitchell live on the trail in Nashua, New Hampshire for President Clinton's first official public campaign event for his wife Hillary. Speaking moments ago here in Nashua, New Hampshire, a state that has been very good to the Clintons.”

She excitedly touted a brief exchange she had with the former president after “climbing over some chairs in this community college gym trying to get to him.” Mitchell began by lobbing a softball: “Hello, Mr. President. How does it feel to be back in New Hampshire, which loves you?” Clinton replied: “Wonderful. I love this place, you know.”

She then vaguely alluded to Donald Trump bringing up his sex scandals: “How do you feel about the kind of campaign Donald Trump is running, sir?” Clinton dodged: “The Republicans will have to decide who they’re going to be nominating. How I feel is only relevant once they pick a nominee. We’re trying to win a primary. We’ve got to do that first.”

Asking about the close New Hampshire Democratic primary, Mitchell wondered: “Can Hillary win this one?” Predictably, Clinton responded: “Sure. Win here? Sure. But it's going to be hard.” Mitchell urged: “What's your advice to her?” Clinton declared: “I believe she’s been here a lot, worked hard. That's all you can do. These people are really fair.”

After the clip, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd gushed over her reporting: “Let me deconstruct this moment, Andrea, watching you there. First of all, nobody does rope line like you do rope line. Bill Clinton's ear was so attuned to you.”

Moments before playing the brief exchange, Mitchell asked Todd: “Chuck, let's talk about Bill Clinton as a surrogate. Is he a political asset or a liability?” Todd proclaimed: “Look, he's clearly an asset, okay? Let's not pretend....his best moments are what he can say about Hillary Clinton that she doesn't say about herself and others don't do for her. He adds that personal touch, talks about her in such a human way...”

Mitchell referred to the Clintons as “political thoroughbreds,” while touting, “Hillary Clinton last night against a heckler who happened to be a Republican state lawmaker who brought up Bill Clinton's past, the woman issue...”

Later on the show, while talking to Bloomberg Politics managing editor Mark Halperin, Mitchell continued her fawning: “He was back at it and it was classic Bill Clinton...the policy wonk playing to New Hampshire concerns, heroin drug addiction, concerns about the economy, and this is his closing argument for Hillary Clinton in this first appearance...”

Halperin observed: “Well, this is a guy who even rusty and even warming up – and I think we recognize that he wasn't at his absolute best today as he gets back to the campaign trail – he’s still a very formidable force for her.”

He predicted that Democratic voters would “largely put aside” any Clinton scandals and that “both Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton over the next couple weeks, I think, are going to be powerful forces within the Democratic electorate.”

Here is a transcript of Mitchell’s opening segment of the January 4 show:

12:01 PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good day, everyone. I'm Andrea Mitchell live on the trail in Nashua, New Hampshire for President Clinton's first official public campaign event for his wife Hillary. Speaking moments ago here in Nashua, New Hampshire, a state that has been very good to the Clintons.

But Vermont neighbor Bernie Sanders is proving to be a tougher than expected competitor this time around. And Donald Trump has raised issues that neither Bill or Hillary Clinton want to confront.

NBC's Chuck Todd took a look at President Clinton's successes and failures as a campaign surrogate last time around. And Chuck joins me now. Chuck, let's talk about Bill Clinton as a surrogate. Is he a political asset or a liability?

CHUCK TODD: Look, he's clearly an asset, okay? Let's not pretend. This is not – I don't think he’s – even when people thought he was a liability, I think in 2000, you can ask Al Gore, and I think they now realize that he was probably – would have been more of an asset in certain places.

So, and I thought today, his best moments are what he can say about Hillary Clinton that she doesn't say about herself and others don't do for her. He adds that personal touch, talks about her in such a human way, it sort of breaks that veneer. That's where he's really strong and he can be very good and he was so good for President Obama back in 2012.

Now, the question is, does his presence bring up just sort of allude too much to the past, not the future, right? That's always a challenge here. It's always been a challenge, I think, for Hillary Clinton the presidential candidate, whether it was in '08 where Obama effectively made turn the page and made anything Clinton a liability because it was about the past.

So look, that's part of the challenge here. But I think for right now, where Hillary Clinton has some likability problems that she's got to fix, I think Bill Clinton is definitely an asset, particularly in a place like New Hampshire.

MITCHELL: And of course, Donald Trump has been going after both Hillary and Bill Clinton. I caught up with Bill Clinton along the rope line. This is a very controlled event, I have to tell you. He's shaking hands now, but just a few moments ago I had a brief moment climbing over some chairs in this community college gym trying to get to him. Here's the way it went.

MITCHELL [TO BILL CLINTON]: Hello, Mr. President. How does it feel to be back in New Hampshire, which loves you?

BILL CLINTON: Wonderful. I love this place, you know.  

MITCHELL: How do you feel about the kind of campaign Donald Trump is running, sir?

CLINTON: The Republicans will have to decide who they’re going to be nominating. How I feel is only relevant once they pick a nominee. We’re trying to win a primary. We’ve got to do that first.

MITCHELL: Can Hillary win this one?

CLINTON: Sure. Win here? Sure. But it's going to be hard.

MITCHELL: What's your advice to her?

CLINTON: I believe she’s been here a lot, worked hard. That's all you can do. These people are really fair. No candidate who borders New Hampshire has ever lost a primary here, except when Howard Dean lost to John Kerry because they both did. But I think she can, you know, they’ve been good to us and we’ve worked hard.

MITCHELL: So Chuck, you’ve been through this so many times. You know what it's like, trying to get something that you can use. You saw, I think, a little bit of Bill Clinton there. He's not just low-balling, he knows that going up against a neighboring senator from Vermont is going to be hard and New Hampshire is the test for both Bill and Hillary Clinton. It's where they turned their campaigns around, spinning a second place finish by Bill Clinton in '92 and winning for Hillary Clinton in '08.

TODD: That's right.

MITCHELL: This is a big test for her.

TODD: Let me deconstruct this moment, Andrea, watching you there. First of all, nobody does rope line like you do rope line. Bill Clinton's ear was so attuned to you. I thought you saw for a flash when you asked him the Trump question, he had an answer that he knows, then somebody said – he was reminded, whatever it takes, don't create a story with Trump today, Mr. President. I'm sure that's the advice he got. He listened to that advice.

And by the way, did you notice you had the aide next to you who then quickly said, “Thank you, thank you.” That was the minute they heard Trump. Look, there was a strategic decision made by the Clinton campaign today. “Whatever it takes, Mr. President, do not try to engage Donald Trump. He'll engage you. Don't engage back, do your best not to create that story.”

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC