Mitchell Reports | August 24, 2012
>>> in our daily fix today, did he really just say that? this was mitt romney in michigan .
>> ann was born at henry ford hospital . i was born at harper hospital. no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. they know that this is the place that we were born and raised.
>> mark halperin is a senior political analyst for "time" and msnbc and joins us now from new york. mark, what was the point of raising that issue in that context to that audience? was this an ad lib , a joke, strategy?
>> i would like to answer your question but twitter is exploding and i need to tend to that. the left and the right are going crazy over this. i think mitt romney was making a joke. we have seen particularly when he's in michigan , when he jokes about the heights of the trees. the left will say i'm making an excuse for him. i don't know why he did it. it was ill-advised, i'll say that, and it is going to cause -- we have already seen a statement from the obama campaign , fast and furious , a reaction statement. you will see tons of comments on this. this will dominate the day and into the weekend. governor romney i think will say he was just joking but people on the left won't believe it. it was a mistake, whether it was accidental on purpose, it was an unfortunate mistake because anything that injects the birther talk into the top of the republican ticket is going to be seized on forever as something that is divisive and a mistake. like i said, i think he was trying to be funny. i think it was not the right thing to say because it's going to distract the campaign from serious issues for a long time and may distract from his convention.
>> kevin madden has put out a statement. as you know, romney 's senior advisor . he says the governor has repeatedly said he believes the president was born in the united states . he was only referencing that michigan , where he's campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised. but i watched it live, i was watching the rally as i was preparing for this program, and this was not what we were planning to be talking about. we were going to talk about their rollout, the convention plan, and what they're doing regarding ron paul which we'll get to in just a moment but this is, some will say this is a dog whistle , that this was not ad lib but it does somehow suggest the whole birther issue which is the whole question about race and the campaign, something that the romney m campaign has vigorously rejected, saying their welfare ads have nothing to do with race but this, as you point out, is going to give critics a big opening.
>> there's two things about this that are true that makes what governor romney said for whatever reason unfortunate. one is, there are all these other issues. governor romney has used other language and his surrogates have talking about the president needs to be more american, things along those lines. there's the welfare ad which there's no doubt the democrats think is a racial dog whistle . so it's part of a package of things that is going to intensify the democrats' claims that governor romney and his allies are engaged in a dog whistle campaign across the board to try to paint the president in terms that they're unwilling to confront directly. the other unfortunate thing, there are tens of millions of americans who don't think the president was born in the united states , so anything that responsible people do to talk about that, someone who is about to become the official republican nominee, is going to inflame the dialogue in a way that the white house doesn't like and frankly, governor romney shouldn't like. i think for them, it would be wise for them and good for the country if rather than kevin madden's initial statement which on the face of it is fine, they went a little further than that and tried to defuse this. there will be danger on the right if they do but it's the right thing to do.
>> let's talk about ron paul because what they've now made clear is that the roll call is going to be on monday and they did say that last week. it was little noticed when they put out the schedule. the roll call is going to be monday. he will not accept the nomination or start spending general election monday until thursday but ron paul will get his own video on tuesday. his son rand paul speaking on monday, then ron paul getting a video tribute at the convention on tuesday. why?
>> one of the things the romney campaign has done i think brilliantly is they are ending up with almost the exact convention they wanted in terms of excluding speakers who they would be better off not having at the podium in their view, and including people they wanted to include. ron paul 's speech is a distraction that they don't want. rand paul is a nice compromise for them and a tribute video, ron paul 's people really appreciate it. most voters, some voters might be turned off by dr. paul , won't notice there is a video. it's another good compromise on their part in a way that is lining up the program they want. they just need to avoid the kind of distraction governor romney created for himself this morning.
>> briefly, before i let you go, do you think there's going to be a compromise on ann romney ? she's supposed to speak monday. the broadcast networks are not carrying the convention on monday. they are doing three days as they are doing for the democrats or the same amount of overall time as they're doing in charlotte. do you think they will relent if they see no broadcast opportunity to show ann romney , who is one of their best surrogates, and move her speech to the next day?
>> i think they will. i think there's a history sometimes of networks changing course on things like this. i don't get the sense that's going to happen here. i think the republicans are sort of putting out one last ditch effort to say please, could you all cover monday night, that's an important speech. if not, it's really not that big a deal of moving it to a different night, maybe tuesday, sharing billing with chris christie . i think it's important to them. they must introduce ann romney and through ann romney , mitt romney to the country. i think they're right to go for that broadcast coverage. it's a bigger audience, typically, than cable and it's a demographic that is going to have more undecided voters in it than you can reach typically on cable.
>> okay. mark halperin , thanks. get back on twitter.