Mitchell Praises 'Less Threatening' Buttigieg's 'Smart' Decision to 'Take on Mike Pence'

The panel on Andrea Mitchell Reports Monday responded to Pete Buttigieg’s official entry into the presidential race with mostly favorable coverage. Host Andrea Mitchell praised his “pretty smart” decision to go after Vice President Mike Pence while wondering if Buttigieg was “less threatening” than a female candidate. 

The segment began with a video clip of Buttigieg’s announcement speech. Mitchell asked NBC News Political Reporter Josh Letterman, who was present at the kickoff, “what was the magic…in the space?” Without using the word “magic,” Letterman answered Mitchell’s question by mentioning there was “quite a lot of enthusiasm” and highlighted that “thousands of people packed into a converted old car plant with rain coming through the ceiling, people getting soaked for hours but not really caring, very revved up for someone that they say they see as a viable political candidate.”

Mitchell proceeded to read aloud an article written by Olivia Nuzzi for New York Magazine, which described Buttigieg as a “wonder boy” who has “something for everyone.” Nuzzi compared Buttigieg to Alex P. Keaton, the protagonist on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, and highlighted his Christian faith while mentioning that “he’s not weird about it.” This was apparently an effort to contrast Buttigieg with those “right-wing extremists,” who are “weird” about their faith.

 

 

After former Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley described Buttigieg as “catchy,” Mitchell argued that “it was pretty smart of him to take on Mike Pence as a way of going after Donald Trump and going after the evangelicals and saying...if you don’t like me, speak to my creator.” Former Congressman David Jolly joined the love fest, describing the Buttigieg candidacy as “exciting” and transformational, adding that “he can talk so comfortably about his faith and talk about red state issues.”

Mitchell went on to complain that “there are a number of women who have not been getting very much traction, have been overlooked, shall we say? Klobuchar, Gillibrand, even Kamala Harris with her very big rollout has not been getting as much attention as Pete Buttigieg,” before asking “is it possible that, you know, a married gay white man from South Bend, Indiana is less threatening to...some of the voters than a woman or a woman of color?” Mitchell’s line of questioning seemed to imply that American voters are sexists who are intimidated by the idea of a female President.

MSNBC Contributor Kimberly Atkins seemed to agree with Mitchell’s analysis; especially when she asked “is that the hangover Hillary effect?” Atkins complained that candidates like Kamala Harris were not getting enough attention from the media and wondered “if that is some inherent bias going on when we still see the top folks are still white men.”

While many in the media have fallen in love with Buttigieg, Jolly reminded them that “the honeymoon is going to quickly come to an end. He is entering a race with a lot of other exceedingly qualified candidates in the Democratic field.” Based on the media coverage he has received, it seems like Buttigieg’s honeymoon will never come to an end.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Monday’s edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports is below. Click “expand” to read more.

Andrea Mitchell Reports

04/15/19

12:23 PM

ANDREA MITCHELL: In front of a hometown crowd of more than 4,000, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Buttigieg made it official; kicking off his upstart presidential bid with an anti-Trump message and trying to make the most of his midwestern appeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG: That’s why I’m here today; to tell a different story than Make America Great Again.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUTTIGIEG: Because there’s a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities, the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back. It comes from people who think the only way to speak to communities like ours is through resentment and nostalgia. They’re selling an impossible promise of returning to a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL: Joining me now is Josh Letterman, NBC News National Political Reporter, who was at Mayor Pete’s kickoff rally in Indiana; former Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley; Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington News Correspondent for WBUR and an MSNBC Contributor; and David Jolly, former Republican Congressman and MSNBC Political Contributor. Welcome all. Josh, first to you, you were there. What was the magic in, in the space? How was it? How would you grade it as a kickoff rally? Even though we knew he was running, this was the hometown kickoff.

JOSH LETTERMAN: Yeah. Not a lot of suspense about what he was actually going to announce as he was there. But for someone, Andrea, who really came out of nowhere, out of political obscurity just a few weeks ago; quite a lot of enthusiasm. Thousands of people packed into a converted old car plant with rain coming through the ceiling, people getting soaked for hours but not really caring, very revved up for someone that they say they see as a viable political candidate. We know that some of the enthusiasm we’re seeing from people at his events is mirrored by what we’re seeing in the polls. In New Hampshire, in Iowa, both placing third in recent polls and in his fundraising; announcing he brought in a million bucks just in four hours yesterday, another $7 million earlier this year. Now, it’s not easy to sustain the level of momentum that someone like Pete Buttigieg has had over the past few weeks; this stardom that really came so quickly but that is his task now and that’s something that his team is working to try to keep in place.

MITCHELL: Joe Crowley, this is a different kind of candidate in so many different ways and Olivia Nuzzi took this on in New York Magazine; saying in her profile that he is the wonder boy, that he’s got something for everyone. She wrote, “Sick of old people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Scared of young people? He looks like Alex P. Keaton. Religious? He’s a Christian. Atheist? He’s not weird about it. Weary of Washington? He’s from flyover country. Horrified by flyover country? He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford.” And I should say also a, you know, war veteran from Afghanistan, speaks six languages or more. I may have lost track of the languages; Rhodes scholar.

JOE CROWLEY: Yeah.

MITCHELL: So is this the new breed of candidate?

CROWLEY: I think…

MITCHELL: How does he match up against the Bernies and…

CROWLEY: …with such a…

MITCHELL: …Joe Biden?

CROWLEY: …wide berth of, of people running, I think we’re desperate for…to find someone who kind of sticks out in some respects. And he certainly sticks out in a lot of different ways. You know, his vital, revitalation, revitalation, revitalization of, of, of, of, of his home city is, is not something to dismiss. This middle America. He really speaks to the values of middle America. He speaks to their, their dreams and their hopes. And I think that’s something that…it’s certainly catchy and it’s catching fire.

MITCHELL: And it’s pretty smart of him to take on Mike Pence as a way of going after Donald Trump and going after the evangelicals and say, you know, if, if you don’t like me, speak to my creator.

CROWLEY: And also South Bend, Indiana, is square, right in the middle of, of the Vice President’s home state so it kind of takes on some of the things he says about his home state and kind of pushes back on that as well, which I think is important.

MITCHELL: David Jolly, do Republicans…does Trump world worry about this kind of candidate or are they more worried about going after Joe Biden?

DAVID JOLLY: Yeah, I…I don’t know how worried they are. This is an exciting candidacy. It is a…his candidacy in and of itself is a transformational moment; an openly gay man, exceedingly qualified, who can talk so comfortably about his faith and talk about red state issues. His candidacy is transformational but whether he can be a transformational candidate remains to be seen. Andrea, in many ways, the honeymoon is going to quickly come to an end. He is entering a race with a lot of other exceedingly qualified candidates in the Democratic field. As a contrast to Trump, listen, there are a lot of contrasts between Mayor Pete and Donald Trump; from intellect to the heart and soul issues but that’s true of a lot of other Democratic candidates as well. And there may be others more formidable to take on the incumbent President.

MITCHELL: Speaking of other candidates in the race, Kimberly Atkins, there are a number of women who have not been getting very much traction, have been overlooked, shall we say? Klobuchar, Gillibrand. Even Kamala Harris, with her very big rollout, has not been getting as much attention as Pete Buttigieg. Is it, is it possible that, you know, a married gay white man from South Bend, Indiana is less threatening to, to some of the voters than a woman…

KIMBERLY ATKINS: I think that’s…

MITCHELL: …or a woman of color?

ATKINS: …I think that’s one thing that Democrats, some Democrats are believing. I’ve had Democratic operatives say to me that they are not sure, they are worried about a woman getting nominated and how that would be going against Donald Trump, and at the end, at the end of the day…

MITCHELL: Is that the hangover Hillary effect?

ATKINS: …that gave us…I think it’s part of that. But at the same time, you are right. You have these women candidates, a lot of folks, Pete Buttigieg’s new campaign is pointing out the fact that he…on policy, he doesn’t differ from a lot of these other folks. In fact they have had, put out a lot more policy positions like Senator Warren, you have someone like a Senator Harris who pulled in a lot more money and has a far, you know, is far…farther ahead in organizing in the early states and is getting, getting a lot of attention on the ground if not in the media and wondering if that is some inherent bias going on when we still see the top folks are still white men.

 

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