Friday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow was joined by “Up with Chris Hayes” host Chris Hayes for a discussion of the fact that in the thick of the campaign, with fewer and fewer things running in his favor, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) has resorted to trolling liberals in order to shore up his credibility with the right wing base.
Mitt Romney has long faced skepticism from the more die-hard ranks of the Republican Party. His previously squishy stances on abortion and LGBT rights, his architecture of the “Romneycare” health plan and other failures on the former governor’s part to toe the pure Randian party line have made it necessary for him to pander to the right by swinging wildly at liberals, making birther jokes and otherwise embarrassing himself.
Donald Trump has been an ongoing irritant in the 2012 race. He surfaced as a candidate running solely on the issue of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Over and over, he hammered on the “birther” issue until it made him a literal laughingstock, with the president dinging him at the 2011 White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
Stung, Trump lowered his profile in the race, but now he’s back, not as a candidate, mercifully, but promising “a big surprise” for the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa. Some conjecture that this will a skit involving a symbolic “firing” of an actor impersonating President Obama.
Romney has gone out of his way to be photographed with Trump (and his jet), to fund-raise with the purported billionaire in Las Vegas and use him as a campaign surrogate.
Maddow pointed out that Romney is losing badly to the president among African-Americans and Hispanics.
“Mitt Romney is running out of ways to meet even his own low mathematical expectations,” she said, referring to a remark Romney made about getting “50.1 percent” of the vote by any means necessary. “From this distance he cannot get there by winning over African-American voters, he’s also really not getting anywhere with Latino voters.”
To make up the difference, she said, his “only hope is to win over white voters by a very large margin.” And what better way to do that in the current racially charged environment, than to start blowing the dog-whistle and trolling the left?
“Why would Mitt Romney make a birther joke on the way to the Republican Convention?” she asked. To get to the 50.1 percent.
Chris Hayes joined Maddow for the second half of the clip, agreeing that yes, there is a racist undertone to the conversation when even at this late date, birtherism is becoming a part of the Republican message. Hayes speculated that the 2012 election will look less like the 2008 election and more like the 2004 election, when Karl Rove used same sex marriage as a prod to bring out the right.
As election day creeps closer and the campaign rhetoric becomes more heated, however, the back-and-forth will result in what Hayes called a “ricochet strategy,” in which conservatives’ inner nastiness can be manipulated to Romney’s favor. They may not love him, but they like anyone who liberals hate. And that, said Hayes, may be their last-ditch strategy for bringing out the vote.
Watch the clip, embedded via MSNBC, below: