Appearing on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman slammed Mitt Romney by suggesting even Aborigines tribes in New Zealand and Australia were mocking him: "I just came back from New Zealand, okay? I mean, you have people living in the outback of Australia who look at Mitt Romney and say, 'Ha, ha. Not authentic.' I mean, it's just so – it is just so obvious." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Fill-in host Joe Scarborough chimed in: "That's just not good." Friedman proclaimed: "I mean, you know this is a guy who is running against everything he's believed his whole life. I mean, and it is just so staggeringly obvious."
Note to Friedman, New Zealand and Australia are actually different countries. So much for being an expert on international affairs.
Later, Scarborough's fellow MSNBC Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski, who was also on the panel, delighted in playing a montage of Romney's campaign gaffes: "Mitt Romney can't seem to get out of his own way....Especially when it comes to looking like a rich guy who's out of touch. Take a look at these clips."
After the clips, Brzezinski eagerly piled on: "...word comes out this week, possibly from another campaign, that he's building a massive beach house with an elevator for his cars....The entire project has a lobbyist....And it gets worse. Just this week....he was talking about a humorous story. He found it very humorous to tell the story about his father closing a plant."
When the car elevator story broke days earlier, NBC actually touted how it came from Democratic sources.
Brzezinski turned to New York Times columnist David Brooks and wondered: "How bad is this for Mitt Romney? Does it represent something deeper? And for the Republican Party?" Brooks couldn't resist joking: "Yeah, well, it's hard to get good help these days." Brzezinski replied: "So you can't even help yourself."
Brooks fretted: "There was a poll today, what one word do you think about when you think of Mitt Romney? Wealthy was number one." Brzezinski helpfully added the label: "One percent."
Scarborough cheered the ability of wealthy Democratic presidents to connect with people: "...the Kennedys did know how to do this....The famous quote from the person who as weeping when he saw FDR's coffin go past. 'Did you know him? No, but he knew me.'"
Time magazine's Jon Meacham added: "Quite successfully. And I think part of it is that they were all comfortable in their own skin and they all were very practical, pragmatic politicians. Nobody would accuse Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy of being strictly ideological by any means."
Meacham then referenced back to Friedman's bizarre comment: "[Voters] want someone who, to go to Tom's point, that even in New Zealand they will think you're authentic."
Scarborough rounded out the Romney-bashing by setting up Brzezinski: "And, Mika, there's no doubt the White House is going to exploit this in, in the fall campaign."
Brzezinski forwarded White House talking points:
Even now the President has four or five events scheduled in the next two weeks, they told me yesterday, that's going to be focused around the Buffett Rule and about people paying their fair share. They think it's a great counter to Mitt Romney and a great counter to Paul Ryan's budget, which they, which they contend does not match in the world of 99 percent vs. the 1 percent. They believe their message matches the moment.
Earlier on the broadcast, Friedman blamed the unpopularity of ObamaCare on Americans not understanding the legislation.
Here is a transcript of Scarborough's April 1 exchange with Friedman:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Tom Friedman, as we talk about Mitt Romney, I want to show you what I think is the most telling number of the week that's come out in polls and it was from The Washington Post/ABC poll that talked about his favorability ratings. Right now, Mitt Romney 's favorable ratings, 34 percent; unfavorable, 50 percent. That is unheard of for a leading contender at this stage of the process. Look back historically at what Republicans have enjoyed and if you look at the approval ratings that John McCain had at this point in the campaign, 53 percent; George W. Bush and Bob Dole, 49 percent. Again, Mitt Romney down to 34 percent. Tom , does this speak more to Mitt Romney or a bigger problem with the Republican Party or the political system as we know it in 2012?
TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, I think it's, it's two things. I think it is the fact that, in my view, the Republican Party is no longer a conservative party, it's become a radical party on a lot of these key issues. That's number one. And number two, I just came back from New Zealand, okay? I mean, you have people living in the outback of Australia who look at Mitt Romney and say, "Ha, ha. Not authentic." I mean, it's just so – it is just so obvious.
SCARBOROUGH: That's just not good.
FRIEDMAN: Okay, alright? I mean, you know this is a guy who is running against everything he's believed his whole life. I mean, and it is just so staggeringly obvious.