Trump Campaign Chief Calls Out Andrea Mitchell for Excusing Hillary’s Deplorable ‘Gaffe’

On her MSNBC show on Tuesday, host Andrea Mitchell fretted: “Trump continues to exploit Hillary Clinton’s gaffe saying that half of the Trump supporters could be put, quote, ‘into the basket of deplorables.’” In the interview that followed, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway called out Mitchell for downplaying Clinton’s comments: “...that’s her on tape and I respectfully disagree when people characterize what she said as a gaffe. She was reading prepared remarks and she had said it previously.”

Mitchell feebly attempted to deliver Clinton campaign spin to excuse the controversy: “She had not said half – she had not said half of the supporters previously. She had referred to the deplorables, but she had not used that categorization, the quantifying it in terms of half the supporters.”

The anchor then tried to promote Clinton as more substantive: “You know, according to the Associated Press, that did a survey on issues....Donald Trump had seven issues on his website totaling some 9,000 words. Hillary Clinton had 38 issues on her website with 112,000 words.”

Conway pushed back:

Well, the hundred and some thousand words definitely sounds like what a politician, a bureaucrat does, they do it with our tax codes, they do it on their websites. If we're going to run this election expecting voters to go to our websites and figure out what these people believe on policy, I respect the voters more than that....This idea that we're going to do it on websites and just – Mrs. Clinton’s gonna will fly around just raising money and not talking to voters? I think it's a losing formula and I hope they stick with it.  

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Mitchell was outraged by the criticism and rushed to the defense of the Democratic nominee:

I have to tell you, I've been on the road – Kellyanne, I’ve been on the road with her for a year and a half and I've watched your campaign, you know, from a distance. I've been on the Democratic campaign watching it, covering it. She has been talking to voters. I mean, that's what the listening tour was about. At the same time, there’s a lot of criticism from Donald Trump that she was meeting with small groups. That’s what she was doing, talking to voters. She was not at big rallies. And so, you can’t have it both ways.

Here are excerpts of the September 13 exchange:

12:04 PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: Trump continues to exploit Hillary Clinton’s gaffe saying that half of the Trump supporters could be put, quote, “into the basket of deplorables.”

(...)

12:13 PM

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Hillary Clinton told us a couple days ago she doesn't want to be president of all the people, she has, you know, I think a privileged scorn for many, for tens of millions of Americans in her terrible comments. But we also agree with the second part of her unfortunate comments, which is that there are many millions of Americans that are, quote, to quote her, “desperate for change.” They're desperate for change because this administration, of which she's been a part, has not addressed the economic woes of all Americans and certainly has done very little to help people meet the needs of quality dependable childcare. It's a big issue in our society.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Let me ask about that childcare issue and the fact that in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, 60% of Americans believe that Donald Trump is biased against women and minorities. Doesn't that show that your campaign has a major problem with these parts of the electorate? With women and minorities?

CONWAY: Those people must read The Washington Post. But in any event, so of course we're going for all voters. And we go to places where Republicans don't traditionally go, right into the black churches, down to Louisiana to help, over to Mexico to meet with the president, then up the same day in Arizona to give a speech on immigration.

So we're vying for all votes, not just – you know, I really feel like Tim Kaine's comments after Hillary Clinton’s comments made it worse on Saturday morning. Doesn't even sound like they had basically conferred, but he said she doesn't need to apologize because “there are some votes that we're not going to get.” Really? That's how we're looking at people? We’re looking at them as voters and not human beings and not as Americans? That’s not a very unifying message.

I think the Democratic Party’s – you know, in the past, they have been really successful in elevating and indeed electing folks who ran on unity like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and JFK. And now it's a very divisive sounding way to try to capture all Americans. I realize her fat-cat donors on Wall Street really yucked it up and had a good old time at the expense of hard-working Americans, but let me tell you something, Andrea, whenever Hillary Clinton is seen in her own words and can't blame her, quote, “political enemies,” “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” it's bad for her. Because that’s her on tape and I respectfully disagree when people characterize what she said as a gaffe. She was reading prepared remarks and she had said it previously. A gaffe is –

MITCHELL: She had not said half – she had not said half of the supporters previously. She had referred to the deplorables, but she had not used that categorization, the quantifying it in terms of half the supporters. You know, according to the Associated Press, that did a survey on issues – because we noted this after Donald Trump talked about policies and he talks most about policies, as you just had – that Donald Trump had seven issues on his website totaling some 9,000 words. Hillary Clinton had 38 issues on her website with 112,000 words. Now, yes, he's talking more about policies since you've taken over and there has been a noticeable change in the presentations on the campaign stump, but certainly not for the year previous.

CONWAY: Well, the hundred and some thousand words definitely sounds like what a politician, a bureaucrat does, they do it with our tax codes, they do it on their websites. If we're going to run this election expecting voters to go to our websites and figure out what these people believe on policy, I respect the voters more than that. I think that they’d prefer that these candidates come to them and – or at least make public about statements where you have a four or five point, ten-point road map in the case of our Veterans Administration reform plan, Andrea. This idea that we're going to do it on websites and just – Mrs. Clinton’s gonna will fly around just raising money and not talking to voters? I think it's a losing formula and I hope they stick with it.  

MITCHELL: I have to tell you, I've been on the road – Kellyanne I’ve been on the road with her for a year and a half and I've watched your campaign, you know, from a distance. I've been on the Democratic campaign watching it, covering it. She has been talking to voters. I mean, that's what the listening tour was about. At the same time, there’s a lot of criticism from Donald Trump that she was meeting with small groups. That’s what she was doing, talking to voters. She was not at big rallies. And so, you can’t have it both ways.

CONWAY: I guess the question remains why she can't get to 55, 60, 65% of women. She's running as the first female. I don’t understand. Well, I do understand and I do know why, but it's a great question to ask. Is it the truthfulness, the transparency problems? Is that they just are saying that, “Yeah, I want a woman, but not that woman,” it’s not a hypothetical, it’s Hillary Clinton? Time is running short here. And I don't think they're in a position where they expected to be after spending two-hundred-some thousand dollars plus between their super-PACS and the campaign on ads just to say Donald Trump takes the wings off of butterflies. I mean, why are they so tight in your own polling? So we're excited with our formula.

(...)


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