On Monday, NBC’s Today show attempted to pass off an effort by Hillary Clinton supporters to infiltrate the Republican Party as a legitimate effort to recruit GOP women to run for office in 2020. During the report, White House correspondent Kristen Welker talked to several female “Republican” candidates but failed to mention that the founders of the grassroots group backing those candidates actively campaigned for Clinton in 2016.
“Now to a group that’s working to change the face of Washington and the Republican Party,” co-host Craig Melvin announced at the top of the segment. Welker, filling in for regular co-host Savannah Guthrie, introduced her own report by proclaiming: “There are more than five times as many Democratic women as Republican women, but with the 2020 race heating up, a new group of candidates are preparing to tackle that challenge head on.”
On the surface, a media story about all of the Republican women planning to run office would sound like positive press for the GOP. However, after doing a little research, it became clear the real motivation for the coverage was very different.
Talking to Patti Russo from Yale University’s Women’s Campaign School, Welker asked: “Are you expecting to see a wave of female Republican candidates in 2020?” Russo replied: “We’re already seeing it. We’re seeing a lot of energy on the Republican side, like never before.”
As evidence, Welker noted: “Demand is so great that recently the Women’s Campaign School held its first ever training specifically for Republican women, covering the basics of running for elective office, from fundraising to messaging.” What she forgot to point out was that training session was also organized by another group – Republican Women for Progress. Footage of the event clearly showed their sign and the founders of the group, Jennifer Pierotti Lim and Meghan Milloy, welcoming women to the seminar.
Just three years ago, in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, Lim and Milloy founded another group together – Republican Women for Hillary.
Clearly the liberal activists simply renamed the pro-Hillary political action committee after Donald Trump won and began looking to recruit like-minded “Republicans” to oppose the President.
Talking to some of attendees of the Republican Women for Progress-sponsored event, Welker declared: “The women told us they were motivated by everything from the Kavanaugh hearings to the need for new policies on health care and immigration. And many worried the GOP was failing to appeal to critical female voters.”
“So many of us are Republicans in hiding,” complained Valerie Mukherjee, a congressional candidate from Illinois. Welker seized on the comment: “That’s a bold statement, you say Republican women have been in hiding. Why?” Angela Woods, running for town council in the Pittsburgh suburb of McCandless, Pennsylvania, chimed in: “It’s kind of hard to get behind sometimes with some of the stuff that’s happening.”
Anne Smith, looking to run for the Virginia General Assembly, lamented: “And I have found I often have to say I’m socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republican.” At that point, Welker revealed that four out the five women she spoke to defined themselves as “socially moderate” or liberal. Only one, Laura Ramirez, running for Fairfax County School Board in Northern Virginia, said she was “really pro-life,” in addition to being a “fiscal conservative.”
Welker fretted: “How will you answer questions about how President Trump has at times spoken about women?” Emily Pelphrey responded: “He has said some dumb things, and I’ll say it just like that. If my five-year-old and my nine-year-old can’t be listening to the news because of comments that are being made, that should be an issue.”
Buried in the write-up of the story on NBCNews.com was the important bit of information that Pelphrey has since abandoned the Republican Party and “reached out to volunteer for the Biden campaign.” Of course Welker never told Today show viewers that.
That same article explained that Republican Women for Progress “is now working with roughly 50 women across the country who are pursuing elected positions at all levels of government — local, state and national.” Lim was quoted saying: “Without a doubt, it’s definitely more Republican women than I’ve ever seen be interested in running. They feel like this is the time to step up...Women are reaching out to us who feel displaced from the current party.”
Again, Welker didn’t even reference the group during the Today show segment, let alone discuss that it’s founders were Hillary Clinton supporters.
The Republican Women for Progress website eagerly promoted the NBC News story on Monday, though it’s not the first media attention they’ve received. The site touts numerous fawning items from numerous other outlets, including Lim and Milloy making an appearance on TBS’s Full Frontal Samantha Bee in 2016. Just the place one would expect “Republicans” to show up.
The sheer dishonesty of Welker’s reporting is stunning. To simply leave out the fact that supposedly “Republican” candidates you’re profiling were actually recruited and backed by prominent Hillary Clinton supporters is beyond the pale.
Here is a full transcript of the August 26 report on NBC’s Today show:
8:18 AM ET
CRAIG MELVIN: Now to a group that’s working to change the face of Washington and the Republican Party.
KRISTEN WELKER: That’s right. Last year’s midterm elections were record-breaking for women. A hundred and twenty-seven women now in Congress, more than ever before, but that was mostly limited to one side of the aisle. There are more than five times as many Democratic women as Republican women, but with the 2020 race heating up, a new group of candidates are preparing to tackle that challenge head on.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Life of the Party?; Republican Women Open Up About GOP’s Direction & Future]
Valerie Mukherjee is running for Congress. An investment manager from the Chicago suburbs, she has never run for office before. She is part of a surge of Republican women across the country planning to run for the first time for everything from school board to Congress.
VALERIE MUKHERJEE: When I looked at our elected officials, I looked and I said too many people look the same and they don’t have a background like mine or a voice like mine. So I think this is the time.
WELKER: The disparity between Republican and Democratic women in office is stark. At the state level, twice as many Democrats as Republicans. And in Congress, just 21 Republican women in the House and Senate, compared with 106 Democrats. That may be about to change.
PATTI RUSSO: There are even fewer women in Congress.
WELKER: Patti Russo has helped run the nonpartisan Women’s Campaign School at Yale University for 20 years. Are you expecting to see a wave of female Republican candidates in 2020?
RUSSO: We’re already seeing it. We’re seeing a lot of energy on the Republican side, like never before.
WELKER: Demand is so great that recently the Women’s Campaign School held its first ever training specifically for Republican women, covering the basics of running for elective office, from fundraising to messaging.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They bought into the narrative that we’re the party of angry, anti-women, and it is just not true. We’re the party of opportunity.
WELKER: The women told us they were motivated by everything from the Kavanaugh hearings to the need for new policies on health care and immigration. And many worried the GOP was failing to appeal to critical female voters.
MUKHERJEE: So many of us are Republicans in hiding.
WELKER: That’s a bold statement, you say Republican women have been in hiding. Why?
ANGELA WOODS: It’s kind of hard to get behind sometimes with some of the stuff that’s happening.
ANNE SMITH: And I have found I often have to say I’m socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republican.
WELKER: Almost all of you. How would you define yourself, Laura?
LAURA RAMIREZ: A fiscal conservative, but I’m really pro-life.
WOODS: And I think that’s a good point because I think that there’s room for all of that in the Republican Party. And what I’m finding is that there seems to be like a litmus test. If you don’t pass these certain things, which don’t even really match up, in my opinion, to what traditional Republican values are, then you’re not considered a Republican anymore.
WELKER: How will you answer questions about how President Trump has at times spoken about women?
MUKHERJEE: You know, comments on things, it goes back his tone or how we was raised or what his family – I don’t judge people on that.
EMILY PELPHREY: He has said some dumb things, and I’ll say it just like that. If my five-year-old and my nine-year-old can’t be listening to the news because of comments that are being made, that should be an issue.
SMITH: Call it, it is disparaging. But it’s not going to dissuade me from running. There’s more of a reason to show that there are women who will stand up and be in the Republican Party.
WELKER: The disparity between Democratic women and Republican women in Congress, how does that hit you?
WOODS: I think that what we saw in the 2018 elections was there was a lot of Republican women who didn’t make it through the primaries. The Republican women just aren’t getting the support that they need, training, financial support, all that kind of stuff. And the other thing that I’m running into is the committees are picking favorites before the primary.
SMITH: And that was the message I was getting from a lot of consultants, who said, “You’ll be seen as a trouble maker within the Republican Party.”
WELKER: A trouble maker?
SMITH: “If you don’t succeed, because you forced a primary when there wasn’t the need for a primary.”
WELKER: Let me ask you broadly about some of the things that we’ve heard from some of your colleagues who want to run. They’ve been told, “We don’t run women because we don’t want to play identity politics.”
SMITH: Yes, I heard that as well. What’s disconcerting is that the Republican Party sees women as an identity and not as just equals within the party that can run neck to neck.
PELPHREY: I see it as an opportunity now going forward, we’re bringing awareness to this. We’re hopefully bringing more people out of the shadows.
SMITH: I think there’s a void and we’re to help fill it. But I do hope that I can one day look down and see the Republican Party as diverse as the Democratic Party and still stand for the core Republican values.
WELKER: And all of the women said they know they face an uphill, both within the party and among voters. In fact, since that interview, two of the women lost their Republican primaries. And guys, what struck me, this was a diverse group of women who had different reasons for wanting to get into the game of politics, but they knew very little about it. So they’re really challenging themselves because they’re that passionate about the issues.
MELVIN: Well, whatever you’re politics, it’s good to see so many women...
MELVIN: ...now willing to get involved in the process and try and fix Washington.
WELKER: Yeah, absolutely. Fascinating conversation.
MELVIN: Thank you for that.
MELVIN: Thank you for bringing that to us. I don’t know when you had time to do it, but thank you.
WELKER: I squeezed it in.