MSNBC: ‘Opportunities’ for Hillary With GOP in ‘Complete Chaos’

On MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Tuesday, The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty saw a big advantage for Hillary Clinton in the midst of the Republican primary campaign: “But the fact is this complete chaos on the Republican side is presenting a lot of opportunities for Hillary Clinton, not only to, again, paint them as extremists, but also to actually put some policy points on the board, which is not really happening much on the Republican side.”

Moments later, The Atlantic’s Molly Ball seized on the same talking point: “...there's sort this parallel campaign going on, the substantive campaign, the campaign that's Hillary versus Jeb [Bush] and Marco [Rubio], and then there's the campaign that most people are watching, which is the chaos, the continuing explosion of the Trump primary.”

Ball added that Clinton would benefit from a lack of media scrutiny in the meantime: “And so this actually enables Hillary to get a little bit out of that spotlight that she has found so oppressive...which she hasn't always dealt with well. That crush of attention that she tends to get.”

At the top of the segment, host Andrea Mitchell touted how “...the women's issues and the reaction to the Republican candidates is what Hillary Clinton has been focusing on...”

Correspondent Kristen Welker explained:

It's a way to rally her base which, of course, is also a key voting bloc. 53% of registered voters are women. So yesterday she lumped everyone in and said, “Look, the comments that we're hearing from Donald Trump are a broader indication that Republicans as a whole are out of touch when it comes to women's issues.”

Very interestingly, she went after Marco Rubio directly, slammed him for opposing abortion in all instances, even in cases of rape and incest. Of course, Rubio came back at her and said he's going to paint her as having radical ideas on this issue. But if you look at the broader electorate, 19% of people agree with Marco Rubio.

Mitchell worried: “Is that an indication, Karen Tumulty, of just how worried the Clinton campaign may be about Marco Rubio and his political skills?

Tumulty observed: “...privately the Clinton team will tell you Marco Rubio is very much of a concern to them. And he is running as sort of a new day in politics. So the more she can paint him as an extremist, you know, the better for her.”

On The Rundown in the 10 a.m. ET hour, Tumulty’s Post colleague Anne Gearan claimed that the Republican debate had “played into the hands” of Clinton.

On Monday’s NBC Nightly News, Mitchell eagerly promoted Clinton’s attack on Rubio: “And Clinton said Marco Rubio's opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, is worse than the way Donald Trump talks about women.”

Here is a transcript of the August 11 exchange:

12:01 PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: Right now Hillary Clinton is holding a town hall in New Hampshire at a community college, where on Monday she tried to lump all of the Republicans in with Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON: While what Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous, what the rest of the Republicans are saying about all women is also outrageous. We'll let the Republicans, you know, go back and forth with each other. But I want to point out there's really not that much difference in the policies that they are proposing when it comes to American women.

MITCHELL: Joining me now for our Daily Fix NBC's Kristen Welker, covering the Clinton campaign in New Hampshire, Molly Ball, political writer for The Atlantic, and Washington Post national reporter Karen Tumulty. Kristen, up there in New Hampshire, the women's issues and the reaction to the Republican candidates is what Hillary Clinton has been focusing on as well as, of course, her speech today and yesterday on college loans. Her point is that the Republicans at that debate did not discuss even once the issue of student loan debt.

KRISTEN WELKER: That's right. And, look, you see Clinton taking this tactic, as you just pointed out, Andrea, and you of course were with her on the campaign trail yesterday, trying to lump all of the Republicans in, in with Donald Trump, when it comes to this issue. It's a way to rally her base which, of course, is also a key voting bloc. 53% of registered voters are women. So yesterday she lumped everyone in and said, “Look, the comments that we're hearing from Donald Trump are a broader indication that Republicans as a whole are out of touch when it comes to women's issues.”

Very interestingly, she went after Marco Rubio directly, slammed him for opposing abortion in all instances, even in cases of rape and incest. Of course, Rubio came back at her and said he's going to paint her as having radical ideas on this issue. But if you look at the broader electorate, 19% of people agree with Marco Rubio.

So this enables Clinton to rally her base. That's important in places like New Hampshire, where Clinton is leading but, as you know, Andrea, she's only leading Bernie Sanders by six points. She is here today talking about her plan to make college more affordable. Another way that she hopes to rally the base and core voters, younger voters in this case. Andrea?

MITCHELL: And here’s a little bit more, Kristen, of what she had to say about Marco Rubio yesterday in New Hampshire.

CLINTON: When one of their major candidates, a much younger man, the senator from Florida, says there should be no exceptions for rape and incest, that is as offensive and as troubling a comment as you can hear from a major candidate running for the presidency.

MITCHELL: Is that an indication, Karen Tumulty, of just how worried the Clinton campaign may be about Marco Rubio and his political skills?

KAREN TUMULTY: I found it interesting that she brought up his age in this because, of course, he is portraying – and for one thing, privately the Clinton team will tell you Marco Rubio is very much of a concern to them. And he is running as sort of a new day in politics. So the more she can paint him as an extremist, you know, the better for her. But the fact is this complete chaos on the Republican side is presenting a lot of opportunities for Hillary Clinton, not only to, again, paint them as extremists, but also to actually put some policy points on the board, which is not really happening much on the Republican side.

MITCHELL: And, Molly, that program that she's outlining on student debt, it's expensive so it's going to be attacked, it already has been attacked by Republicans as $350 billion over ten years. In basically closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, which is, they say, a tax raise on people. But at the same time, she's speaking to people who are so middle class people, upper middle class people, working people, who are so burdened by student debt, by loans, what we're talking about here is the younger generation and also their parents.

MOLLY BALL: This is an issue that polls well. It's an issue that's popular. But let's face it, there's sort this parallel campaign going on, the substantive campaign, the campaign that's Hillary versus Jeb and Marco, and then there's campaign that most people are watching which is the chaos, the continuing explosion of the Trump primary. And so this actually enables Hillary to get a little bit out of that spotlight that she has found so oppressive because for the first maybe last time she's actually not the biggest story in politics for a change, which she hasn't always dealt with well. That crush of attention that she tends to get.

(...)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports Video Andrea Mitchell Karen Tumulty Molly Ball Kristen Welker Hillary Clinton

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