Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza definitively declared on Tuesday's Hardball that for the 2012 race, Barack Obama is "cool" and Mitt Romney is "not cool." Host Chris Matthews, trying to prove his hipness, wondered aloud, "Can you dig it?"
Fellow Post writer Nia-Malika Henderson then attempted to explain what the "kids" these days are saying. After a clip of Obama on the Jimmy Fallon show, Cillizza proclaimed, "The one thing that I would point out that I think is fascinating about this race...[Obama] is cool. Mitt Romney is not cool."
Cillizza later attempted to soften his remark, insisting, "I don't mean it to say pejoratively that Mitt Romney isn't cool. Barack Obama is, but they are going to try and use that against him."
Matthews, whose cultural references often include movies from the '50s, dismissed Romney, "I mean, is that the least cool guy on the planet?"
Henderson gushed, "I think this cool factor, the kids would call it having swagger, is important to these young folks."
A transcript of the April 24th exchange, which aired at 5:43pm EDT, follows:
CHRIS CILLIZZA: The one thing that I would point out that I think is fascinating about this race. I was- He is- this is important: He is cool. Mitt Romney is not cool. That does not mean that-
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: He's got swagger.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's not lean against Romney.
CILLIZZA: It's an important dynamic though.
MATTHEWS: Just to disprove your theory, here's Mitt Romney up in Pennsylvania, the candidate running against him.
MITT ROMNEY: I fully extend the effort to extend the low interest rate for student loans. There was some concern that that would expire half way through the year and I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students. In part because of the extraordinarily, extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.
MATTHEWS: Can you dig it? I knew that you could. I mean, is that the least cool guy on the planet?
HENDERSON: It's very different from- very different from President Obama.
MATTHEWS: That's not putting on a show, by the way.
HENDERSON: And very different from President Obama's testimony about his own, sort of, experience about student loans.
CILLIZZA: But in a way- in a way, Chris, this is the dynamic they're trying to draw. Look, I didn't- I don't mean it to say pejoratively that Mitt Romney isn't cool. Barack Obama is, but they are going to try and use that against him.
MATTHEWS: Could I let her pick up half her time? Can I let Nia have a-
CILLIZZA: Yes. yes.
HENDERSON: I agree with Chris. I think this cool factor, the kids would call it having swagger, is important to these young folks.
MATTHEWS: Am I cool?
HENDERSON: I mean, they're not at the point where they're wearing t-shirts for Barack Obama anymore, but I do think they can identify, because he's the guy who fills out his brackets.