Post-Debate MSNBC Knocks ‘Annoyed,’ ‘Petulant’ Warren, Gushes Buttigieg as 2020's Obama

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Late Tuesday night, MSNBC’s post-debate panel reacted to the 2020 Democratic primary hubbub and, while later spinning that no one had a bad debate, they initially knocked Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as both “annoyed” and “petulant” for being unable to handle incoming attacks as the frontrunner, but swooned over Pete Buttigieg being the second coming of Barack Obama.

Co-host Nicolle Wallace went first, hailing Buttieg as someone who “seems to speak to this primal hunger for something different and something better, not just among Democrats” but particularly those thinking about electability. She added that he “had a fantastic night.”

 

 

Former Senator-turned-MSNBCer Claire McCaskill concurred that Buttigieg had “a strong debate performance” to go along with the money to stay in the race. 

The Buttigieg love would resurface, but they first addressed Warren’s performance and McCaskill opened those proceedings by deeming Warren “a little put off” by the criticisms which “she’s going to have to get used to...if you’re the front-running,” adding that “she seemed a little petulant at times when she was being challenged.”

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson agreed, describing her as “annoyed” that she found herself under the gun on Medicare for All, asserting that because she wasn’t honest about the tax increases that would ensue, “she was pummeled for it.”

McCaskill, co-host Brian Williams, and MoveOn.org’s Karine Jean-Pierre also chimed in (click “expand”):

MCCASKILL: Yeah. It makes her look like she is hiding something. 

WILLIAMS: And it's one of the places Biden drew blood late in the debate by saying to pay for this, if you took the entire Pentagon budget and threw it out, it would buy you four months of Medicare for All. Karine? 

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, no, I totally agree. Everybody on stage, pretty much all agreed she is the front-runner and they attacked her, and she was uncomfortable. She did not handle it very well, but I have to agree with Nicolle. This is not going to shake up anything. I don't think anyone in that second tier is going to move up to the first tier. We are pretty much frozen where we are right now and a lot of it is because of this whole impeachment that has taken the 2020 campaign out of the frontlines. I think, for me, the best part of this debate was the first 20 minutes where the talked about Donald Trump's criminality and that's what I didn't hear a lot of. They did not prosecute the case against Donald Trump at all hardly. And I think that was big miss. 

After a brief period of praising Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as being “aggressive” and “succinct” in having had a “good” and “strong” night, it was back to Warren. 

Co-host Nicolle Wallace opined that she’s unsure if it’s “sustainable” for Warren to remain on the defensive about health care while McCaskill questioned this “chink in her armor” as “she may be avoiding the specifics” in the event she wins the nomination.

Filing in for Chris Matthews in the spin room, All In host Chris Hayes agreed with his colleagues Buttigieg and Klobuchar having strong nights while looking to serve as the non-Biden, non-far-left alternative.

The panel also discussed Beto O’Rourke and, like a loyal member of the Resistance, Wallace defended his gun confiscation policy as someone who not only “channel[ed] the rage” after the Dayton and El Paso shootings but someone who “speaks to the anguish of every mom who sends her baby to school at three years old and has to go to an active shooter drill.”

Shifting back to Buttigieg, Jean-Pierre played the Obama card (click “expand”):

JEAN-PIERRE: So it's really interesting, because I was clearly listening to you guys talk about Pete Buttigieg and looking at the polling and the way that I see Pete Buttigieg is something that is very common in the Democratic Party, and we've seen it in the past, which is we always see a young fresh face, you know, kind of come up from the party and usually become the nominee. I'm not saying he is going to be the nominee. But if you think about Clinton, if you think about Carter, if you think about Obama. And so I — I wonder if that's what's happening? I think they — I think voters are thinking wow, this is someone new. This is an outsider. He's bringing — he's bringing something different to — to — to — to this primary. So that's kind of how I see the Buttigieg playing in this kind of in this space. 

ROBINSON: I wonder, though, if he is — to be in that outsider, something different role, do you have to have rougher edges than Pete Buttigieg? Do you have to — because he speaks in entire fully formed paragraphs. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. 

ROBINSON: And — and — and — and he speaks in language that is always designed to, you know, to encompass people, not to offend people, to bring people along. 

WALLACE: I think he's tough. I think the paragraphs are so perfectly crafted, and I think the people are tired of the Twitter presence. 

ROBINSON: No, absolutely, but I just — I just — I just wonder if when people say they want authenticity these days, do they want something rougher and messier and — and less well informed?

A few minutes later, McCaskill hailed Buttigieg’s “eloquence” as being “authentic” to the point that “it’s a little bit like Barack Obama” because “Obama had an ability when he was speaking, especially in speeches, to kind of soar and inspire people and I think Mayor Pete may do that.”

“[N]obody had a really bad night tonight. I want to say that. Nobody had a really bad night tonight. Elizabeth, while she was — you know, was getting attacked, it was tough for her, but you know, she does really well at making her point,” she added, trying to save face with Warren.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s post-debate analysis on October 15, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Decision 2020: Post-Debate Analysis
October 15, 2019
11:05 p.m. Eastern

NICOLLE WALLACE: Well, look, in that clip of Elizabeth Warren getting attacked over and over again, and I agree, that is the new dynamic, but I think her support, you know, the weird thing about these debates is they haven't resulted in any seismic shifts. Even breakout performances are somehow immune from breakout shifts in the race. The race is frozen, for better or for worse. If you're Biden, Warren or Sanders, and he was pretty spry post heart attack, you like that it's pretty frozen in place. Biden gets terrible press. He is in the middle of the impeachment scandal. His son was on TV today, received mixed reviews. Everyone knows what they think of Joe Biden. So these nights don't have as much at take for people for whom everyone already knows how they feel. I think that what people will be talking about tomorrow morning around the water cooler is Pete Buttigieg. Pete Buttigieg seems to speak to this primal hunger for something different and something better, not just among Democrats and I think Democrats will choose among those 12 candidates, but I think Democrats have front of mine electability and I think Buttigieg had a fantastic night. 

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Among the two and three percenters, and we all know who they all are, did you detect any movement? 

WALLACE: Well there just, I mean, some had better nights than others. There just hasn't been any movement and I think if you go back to Kamala Harris’s stellar night, I think it was two or three debates ago, she was up for a little while and then she faded. So these debates haven't proven to be the thing that democratic voters latch on to in any durable way.

(....)

11:07 p.m. Eastern

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: The thing that Pete has going for him, not only a strong debate performance, he's got money. 

WALLACE: Tons of money. He does. 

MCCASKILL: He's got a lot more money than the other candidates that are in — tucked in behind Bernie and Elizabeth and Joe. So he can take it to an organizational level in these early states. He can get up on the airwaves in these early states, and I do think that Elizabeth seemed a little put off by — she's going to have to get used to there is going to be incoming if you're the front-runner. I thought she seemed a little petulant at times when she was being challenged. 

EUGENE ROBINSON: You think a little?

MCCASKILL: A little? I mean — [INAUDIBLE] — where she got I think she got petulant —

WALLACE: We get real, real fast here. 

ROBINSON: I thought she was pretty petulant. 

WILLIAMS: That’s a column right there.

[LAUGHTER]

ROBINSON: I thought she was annoyed because she came under attack, and she came under a lot of attack for the Medicare for All, on the Medicare for All question, and the question of would she raise taxes and she has a formula that she sticks to. She says costs will go down for the middle class. She will not say that taxes will go up. But other costs will come down as Bernie Sanders says. She just won't go there and she was pummelled for it. 

MCCASKILL: Yeah. It makes her look like she is hiding something. 

WILLIAMS: And it's one of the places Biden drew blood late in the debate by saying to pay for this, if you took the entire Pentagon budget and threw it out, it would buy you four months of Medicare for All. Karine, your lead story?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, no, I totally agree. It's like, everybody on stage, pretty much all agreed she is the front-runner and they attacked her, and she was uncomfortable. She did not handle it very well, but I have to agree with Nicolle. This is not going to shake up anything. I don't think anyone in that second tier is going to move up to the first tier. We are pretty much frozen where we are right now and a lot of it is because of this whole impeachment that has taken the 2020 campaign out of the frontlines. I think, for me, the best part of this debate was the first 20 minutes where the talked about Donald Trump's criminality and that's what I didn't hear a lot of. They did not prosecute the case against Donald Trump at all hardly. And I think that was big miss. 

ROBINSON: Well, in that alternate universe where these debates actually do move the polls, I think you would see Amy Klobuchar move up.

JEAN-PIERRE: She had a good night. 

ROBINSON: I thought she had the best debate night that she has had by far. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, she had a strong night.

MCCASKILL: She had a good night.

ROBINSON: She was more aggressive. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. 

ROBINSON: She was succinct. She had one of the — one of the best lines about billionaires. You know, nobody up here is defending billionaires. Even the billionaires won't —

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, that was a good line. Yeah.

ROBINSON: — aren’t defending billionaires. I thought she was quite good. 

WALLACE: You know what stood out to me, and I say this very aware that I work for politicians whose policies were very unpopular with large swaths of the country. Elizabeth Warren seemed aware that her policy on health care is unpopular with some swaths of the country because Democrats couldn't get her to own it and defend it and I think — and I just wonder if that's a sustainable position. 

MCCASKILL: I think it's tough and I think that is the chink in her armor. She may — she may be avoiding the specifics because she wants to get back to the middle if she wins the nomination and if she hasn't gone to specifics, it's easier to do that. That may be a political calculation she is making, but on several things, she’s going to have to be careful. You know, she raised big money two years for a Senate race and put it all in the presidential and now it's “oh, I don't take big money.” She said, “oh, there is a difference between rich people and me.” Well, she is rich. You know, she is rich. So I do think she is going to have be very careful going forward to be friendly, to be strong and — but to be willing to be specific on this health care thing or it could drag her down. I thought Amy had a great night too and I will tell you, I think Joe Biden had a good night. He was strong on foreign policy stuff, seemed very authentic and authoritative. He seemed in command. He may have had his best debate. He didn't have as much time talking as he's had in other debates, although I wanted him to say — I wanted him to turn to the camera and say get your kids out of the White House. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I agree.

ROBINSON: Yes, yes, yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: He could have gone harder. He could have absolutely gone harder. 

MCCASKILL: I really wish he would have done that. But maybe next time. 

WILLIAMS: The candidates are making their ways to Chris Hayes. Okay, they're coming to the spin room. But they're going to stop by Chris Hayes. Hey, Chris, what's it like in there? 

CHRIS HAYES: You know, it's right now it's sort of cavernous and empty as we wait for them to filter in. I thought basically the dynamics that you spoke about were pretty evident. It has been three people at the top here. I think there is a sort of interesting theory of the case that revolves around Pete Buttigieg, and also to a certain extent Amy Klobuchar which is the idea that there is some vacuum and demand for a kind of non-Biden alternative to Warren and Sanders and I think that's — that’s driven a lot of the thinking about the race. I think it's driving the way that people think about where they fit. What you saw tonight is that Warren and Sanders, they — they do not go after each other, and I think they don't go after each other because they really do view themselves as essentially comrades in arms in this. I mean, they really do think they view their vision as a genuine vision that they both share, that they feel they are making an internal party argument for. The question is there space? And this is a big question for the race right now, right? Is there space for someone who isn't Joe Biden to be in there, right? Is there a thirst or a demand or enough folks there. We saw that debate where Warren and Sanders went to town on the John Delaneys and the Steve Bullocks. Now you've got folks like Buttigieg and I agree, Amy Klobuchar had an extremely strong night. She does very well in red parts of that state. She has a plausible argument on elector — electability. She is a United States senator. Like is that resonating with voters or is the Biden phenomenon about Joe Biden fundamentally, right? That people like Joe Biden. They trust Joe Biden. They've known him for a long time. That to me underlies all of the exchanges we saw tonight, both the attacks that came of Warren, the fact that Sanders didn't and the fact that Joe Biden is content to pass the microphone. It's really remarkable, but I think he understands and his staff understands correctly that, like, debate performances are not what are driving voters to Joe Biden.  

(....)

11:20 p.m. Eastern

WALLACE: He had a good outing and I think it's more the dynamic that Chris Hayes and others are raising that we'll be talking about. If Elizabeth Warren is the nominee, might she look to someone who sort of speaks to that centrist angst, that desire to have someone who sort of animates and excites the base of the party but also speaks — and not that Elizabeth Warren isn't doing well across the country. She has regional support, but there is — I pick up some angst in Democratic circles that she might alienate some moderates. 

(....)

11:21 p.m. Eastern

WILLIAMS: So Beto O’Rourke two to three percent player. The problem he has with the party is at the last debate, he gave the GOP their campaign attack ad by saying, yes, we in fact are coming to confiscate your guns. Tonight he went a step further and said in effect a — an AR-15 lawfully purchased in an open carry state should have the ability to walk up to that person carrying openly and take the weapon right then and there because after all, what could go wrong? 

WALLACE: Well, that's one analysis that is fair. I think the other side is that Beto O’Rourke’s still on that stage because after El Paso and after the second mass shooting of the summer in his state, he was seen as channeling the rage and the feeling that we as a country are hunted by automatic weapons and so —

WILLIAMS: No one doubts his sincerity.

WALLACE: — and I think the two sides of the Beto coin is part of the reason he is on the stage is because he speaks to the anguish of every mom who sends her baby to school at three years old and has to go to an active shooter drill. So a lot of us are willing to sort of not, you know, rule out the politicians that speak to that rage and that exasperation with the gun debate, but I think the other side of it, as you said, is a very rational and probably correct analysis of where his position puts him and puts the party. 

WILLIAMS: And that was the Buttigieg position, Karine. We've got win this at the end of the day. 

JEAN-PIERRE: So it's really interesting, because I was clearly listening to you guys talk about Pete Buttigieg and looking at the polling and the way that I see Pete Buttigieg is something that is very common in the Democratic Party, and we've seen it in the past, which is we always see a young fresh face, you know, kind of come up from the party and usually become the nominee. I'm not saying he is going to be the nominee. But if you think about Clinton, if you think about Carter, if you think about Obama. And so I — I wonder if that's what's happening? I think they — I think voters are thinking wow, this is someone new. This is an outsider. He's bringing — he's bringing something different to — to — to — to this primary. So that's kind of how I see the Buttigieg playing in this kind of in this space. 

ROBINSON: I wonder, though, if he is — to be in that outsider, something different role, do you have to have rougher edges than Pete Buttigieg? Do you have to — because he speaks in entire fully formed paragraphs. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. 

ROBINSON: And — and — and — and he speaks in language that is always designed to, you know, to encompass people, not to offend people, to bring people along. 

WALLACE: I think he's tough. I think the paragraphs are so perfectly crafted, and I think the people are tired of the Twitter presence. 

ROBINSON: No, absolutely, but I just — I just — I just wonder if when people say they want authenticity these days —

WALLACE: Something messier?

ROBINSON: — do they want something rougher and messier and — and less well informed?

JEAN-PIERRE: One of the big problems too —

ROBINSON: I don't know the answer to that.

(....)

11:51 p.m. Eastern

MCCASKILL [on foreign policy]: And I thought that was Mayor Pete's strongest defense tonight and you know, you're right, Eugene, that he is kind of smooth in the way he communicates. He's not rough around the edges, but there's an eloquence to it. 

WILLIAMS: He is a Rhodes scholar.

ROBINSON: Oh, he's got the eloquence. 

MCCASKILL: And I do think that there is some — that his eloquence actually is authentic. I think he is — it's a little bit like Barack Obama. That Barack Obama had an ability when he was speaking, especially in speeches, to kind of soar and inspire people and I think Mayor Pete may do that and listen —

ROBINSON: No, look —

MCCASKILL: — nobody had a really bad night tonight. I want to say that. Nobody had a really bad night tonight. Elizabeth, while she was — you know, was getting attacked, it was tough for her, but you know, she does really well at making her point. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, and she stuck to her message. 

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