MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell and Mitt Romney surrogate, John Sununu, battled Tuesday over the political impact of a leaked video in which Romney wrote off the support of the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax. Sununu attacked the media for focusing on these comments and not President Barack Obama’s strategy of stoking class warfare. Sununu said that Romney merely quantified Obama’s electoral strategy of pitting portions of the electorate against one another. Mitchell struck back, saying that Sununu’s defense had nothing to do with what Romney had actually said.
“My take on it is that you’re missing the big story,” Sununu replied. “This is the first president in my lifetime who has decided to run a campaign on class warfare.” He said that Romney merely quantified the Obama campaign’s strategy and said that the media has made that the story. “You ought to be saying, ‘Shame on you, Obama,” said Sununu.
Andrea Mitchell read a portion of New York Times columnist David Brooks‘ column. she described Brooks as a “down the middle trending towards conservative” columnist for the Times.
“David,” Sununu asked, appearing to take exception with Mitchell’s description. “Don’t categorize him. You started to categorize him.”
Mitchell read a portion of Brooks’ column from Tuesday in which he slams Romney’s comments about the 47 percent. Mitchell went on to cite the Tax Policy Center which found that most people receiving benefits were white and working class
“Nobody said they weren’t,” Sununu interjected.
“Well, there was a question certainly in what Romney said,” Mitchell said.
“No, it wasn’t there,” said Romney. “David Brooks ought to be ashamed of himself for re-categorizing what Mitt Romney said that way.” Sununu cited the Obama campaign’s Julia website as an example of his class warfare campaign and again hit the media for not taking the president to task over this.
“The polls are 47/47,” Sununu continued, clarifying Romney’s remarks.
“Governor Romney was not talking about the polls,” Mitchell interrupted. She went on to read a portion of an editorial from The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol who took Romney to task for making “arrogant” and “stupid” comments. She asked if Romney has a problem with his own supporters over these comments.
“I don’t support anything that Bill Kristol said, but he’s got a magazine and he’s entitled to say it,” said Sununu.
As the conversation moved onto the number of people who pay income taxes and the threshold of what is defined as rich, the debate became more heated. Mitchell and Sununu engaged in crosstalk as Mitchell explained that Sununu was defending things that Romney never said. “If Mitt Romney had said that, we wouldn’t’ be having this conversation today,” said Mitchell.
“If Jimmy Carter’s grandson hadn’t snuck this out, we wouldn’t’ be having this conversation today,” Sununu replied. “You ought to be talking about class warfare and this president nurtures it all the time.
Watch the segment below via MSNBC:
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