On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday, Hardball host Chris Matthews called Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus out on Mitt Romney’s recent birther joke.
Host Joe Scarborough asked Matthews, “Do you think Mitt Romney is playing the race card?”
“There’s no doubt,” Matthews answered. He then connected the joke to the Romney campaign’s series of ads about welfare reform that have repeatedly been declared false by independent fact checkers.
It was a fiery exchange that thrilled many liberals who feel the media is giving Republicans a pass on their use of racial wedge issues that are untethered to facts.
Priebus deflected the criticism by saying, “We’ve gotten to a place in politics where any moment of levity is frowned upon by guys like you.” He then pointed out that since, he became RNC Chair, he and Mitt Romney have declared over and over again that President Obama was born in the United States.
Priebus is still fuming over Matthews’ accusations. In an interview this afternoon, he called Matthews “the biggest jerk in the room” and disparaged his show. Apparently, Matthews hit a nerve.
Preibus thinks Romney deserves credit for only joking about accusing the President of the United States of fraud. Karl Rove recently said that the president should thank Romney for saying the president was born in the United States.
However within a few hours of the exchange key Romney supporter Donald Trump tweeted this:
Why do the Republicans keep apologizing on the so called “birther” issue? No more apologies–take the offensive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2012
Romney has been unwilling to condemn Trump’s unrepentant birtherism since he stood on stage to accept the billionaire’s endorsement early this year. Clearly, playing the race card is a strategy Romney can’t afford to give up.