ABC’s Pitts, Vega Blame Racism Among Florida, Georgia Voters for Abrams, Gillum Losses

When it became clear that Democratic and liberal media darlings Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum were likely to lose their respective races in Georgia and Florida, senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega and Nightline co-host Byron Pitts sought to blame racism for people not electing them.

Vega complained at 10:37 p.m. Eastern that, in Florida, “what we're not talking about is the overtones of race and racism that have played out in the Governor's race there with the comments like monkey this up by DeSantis and Gillum saying, ‘I'm not calling him a racist, the racists believe he's a racist.’”

 

 

She also noted the Trump tweet that called Gillum “‘a thief’ without any evidence” was one of his “more controversial tweets in this election cycle.”

Pitts had expressed hope for Abrams and Gillum at the top of ABC’s broadcast, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that he would be more than a little disappointed with how things panned out. Before he let out his frustration, Stephanopoulos told him that while Gillum “is a new face for the Democratic Party,” he didn’t end up bringing “in enough new voters.” 

This left Pitts to respond by predicting that “many progressives” will “be giving their white neighbors the hairy eyeball tomorrow” (click “expand”):

George, that's right. And I think, for me, many progressives in places like Florida and Georgia, they'll be incredibly disappointed, and they'll be giving their white neighbors the hairy eyeball tomorrow, right? Because there is this narrative in places like Georgia and Florida where you thought, there's this picture painted of President Trump, fair or unfair, that for many people he's seen as someone who is anti-minority, right? And so — and so there were people who felt that, in the case of Florida, we have a black man running for governor, he’s — he’s the mayor of the capital city of the state, progressive, liked be many people, that there might be a New South, a New Florida. This is an indication that it wasn't.

Republican strategist Alex Castellanos was also peeved, except it was with this pity party for Gillum, pointing out that he was not “a centrist candidate” but rather one “fairly radical left of center, progressive in a state that...didn't like that kind of politics.”

Before they went off the air for local news, congressional correspondent Mary Bruce not surprisingly expressed glee for the House Democratic wish list once it became clear they’d retake the House (click “expand”):

They are going to investigate everything, essentially. They are not afraid to go and check this administration. Many Democrats that I talked with feel that this administration has been allowed to operate unchecked by the current chairmans — the current Republican chairmans. That will now come to a screeching halt. They are going to investigate everything from the President's tax returns, to possible Russia collusion, to conflicts of interest. They're going to look at what the President has done with his agenda so far. There is a real political danger, though, for Democrats in doing this. They are going to have to show that they can legislate and not just investigate and Democrats I talked with are well aware of that. They are likely to pass some legislation, early on, especially something dealing with corruption in government, they know that they need to send a message that there's a new sheriff in town.  

To see the relevant transcript from ABC’s midterm election coverage, click “expand.”

ABC News 2018 Midterm Election
November 6, 2018
10:37 p.m. Eastern

CECILIA VEGA: And Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was just asked for her thoughts on Florida and she said, “I think a lot of credit will go to President Trump” if, in fact, they pull off the victory there, because he's been there to campaign for them, both in the governor and senate races. But what we're not talking about is the overtones of race and racism that have played out in the Governor's race there with the comments like monkey this up by DeSantis and Gillum saying, I'm not calling him a racist, the racists believe he's a racist and, of course, one of President Trump's more controversial tweets in this election cycle when he weighed in, he called Gillum a thief without any evidence of that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Byron Pitts, Gillum — Gillum laughed off those — those attacks with a smile. He is a new face for the Democratic Party. It doesn't appear, yet, at least that he brought in enough new voters. 

BYRON PITTS: George, that's right. And I think, for me, many progressives in places like Florida and Georgia, they'll be incredibly disappointed, and they'll be giving their white neighbors the hairy eyeball tomorrow, right? Because there is this narrative in places like Georgia and Florida where you thought, there's this picture painted of President Trump, fair or unfair, that for many people he's seen as someone who is anti-minority, right? And so — and so there were people who felt that, in the case of Florida, we have a black man running for governor, he’s — he’s the mayor of the capital city of the state, progressive, liked be many people, that there might be a New South, a New Florida. This is an indication that it wasn't.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Alex and then Matt.

ALEX CASTELLANOS: Gillum did not run as a centrist candidate. When Barack Obama ran for president, there's no red, blue America, there's only one America. Gillum ran as a fairly radical left of center, progressive in a state that didn't like him — didn't like that kind of politics. He tried to overcome it with personal charm and charisma. But a lot of voters said, I think, might have told pollsters, we don't want to look racist, but this guy may be just too left of center for us.

(....)

10:56 p.m. Eastern

MARY BRUCE: They are going to investigate everything, essentially. They are not afraid to go and check this administration. Many Democrats that I talked with feel that this administration has been allowed to operate unchecked by the current chairmans — the current Republican chairmans. That will now come to a screeching halt. They are going to investigate everything from the President's tax returns, to possible Russia collusion, to conflicts of interest. They're going to look at what the President has done with his agenda so far. There is a real political danger, though, for Democrats in doing this. They are going to have to show that they can legislate and not just investigate and Democrats I talked with are well aware of that. They are likely to pass some legislation, early on, especially something dealing with corruption in government, they know that they need to send a message that there's a new sheriff in town.  

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2018 Governors 2018 Congressional Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Racism ABC Mary Bruce Byron Pitts George Stephanopoulos Cecilia Vega Alex Castellanos Stacey Abrams
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