Appearing on today’s Morning Joe to discuss the brouhaha [or is it a kerfuffle?] over Nikki Haley’s failure to mention slavery when asked the cause of the Civil War, Matt Lewis, a Daily Beast columnist who described himself today as a “Never Trump conservative,” suggested that in doing so, Haley was misreading her core constituency.
As Lewis put it:
“Nikki Haley shouldn’t even be worried about appeasing someone who wants to relitigate the Civil War. Those are not Nikki Haley voters. Nikki Haley was in Berlin, New Hampshire, running to try to win New Hampshire. Not Alabama, not Mississippi. New Hampshire. Her core constituency are not Trump voters. She needs to win independents in New Hampshire and non-Trump, center-right voters in New Hampshire. That should be her top priority.”
Lewis suggested that Haley’s mishandling of the question could cost her dearly. His theory was that the only way Haley can win the New Hampshire primary would be if Chris Christie dropped out of the race. But in Lewis’s view, after Haley’s slavery slip, Christie—who was seen in a clip roasting Haley on the matter—is now much less likely to drop out.
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Lewis also opined that her history of wavering on important issues, and her mishandling of the Civil War question, “speaks a little bit to character as well.”
When Scarborough’s Away, The Panel Will Play
Regular Morning Joe viewers know that, feigning modesty, Joe Scarborough often likes to describe himself as “a simple country lawyer.” In fact, as we observed here, “he clearly wants people to think of him as a razor-sharp legal eagle.”
With Scarborough having the day off this morning, each of the panelists, playing off Scarborough’s shtick, offered increasingly modest descriptions of themselves.
Lewis led off, saying: “I am a simple country pundit. Not even a country lawyer. Just a country political writer.” That elicited a knowing laugh from Willie Geist, who clearly understood where Lewis had gone with his line.
John Heilemann one-upped Lewis in the modesty department, saying, “I’m worse than a simple country lawyer or a simple country pundit. I’m just someone sitting here, watching these guys on the Supreme Court. Men and women on the Supreme Court.” Note the oh-so-woke Heilemann correcting his horrible gaffe of at first speaking only of these “guys” on the Supreme Court.
Finally, Al Sharpton, an inveterate name-dropper who is hardly known for his modesty, tried to outdo even Heilemann, saying, “I’m not a country pundit or someone watching. I’m just a boy preacher from Brooklyn.”
So self-effacing, that trio! Wonder what Scarborough will make of their gentle mocking of his shtick?
Here’s the transcript.
6:30 am ET
MATT LEWIS: Look, a lot of us kind of Never Trump conservatives were skeptical of Nikki Haley because she has wavered over important moral questions, including Donald Trump.
And, but I would say once the debates began, John, she, the very first Republican primary debate, Nikki Haley came out swinging against Donald Trump, attacked him for raising the debt.
And I think at that point, I thought, wow, okay, Nikki Haley finally maybe has figured out what her brand is, who she is, what her message is going to be, and more importantly, who her constituents are. And she has done a pretty good job in the context of the last few months of the campaign of actually being that person.
And if you think about what Nikki Haley needs to do, we’re now two weeks away from the Iowa caucuses. Three weeks away from New Hampshire. Nikki Haley doesn’t need to be worried about — by the way, I think this is the fundamental mistake that Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis both have made. They think they can MAGA voters. They can’t. If you love Donald Trump, you are not gonna vote for somebody else. Certainly, not Nikki Haley.
So Nikki Haley shouldn’t even be worried about appeasing someone who cares, who wants to relitigate the Civil War. Those are not Nikki Haley voters. Nikki Haley was in Berlin, New Hampshire running to try to win New Hampshire. Not Alabama, you know, not Mississippi. New Hampshire. Her core constituency are not Trump voters. She needs to win independents in New Hampshire and non-Trump, center-right voters in New Hampshire. That should be her top priority.
And what does she need to do for that to happen? She needs to get Chris Christie to drop out of the race. I think it is much less likely today that Chris Christie will drop out of the race than it was two or three days ago. So I think this was a big, potentially a deal. Again, with the caveat that news cycles move quickly.
As John was saying, this reinforces a negative stereotype about Nikki Haley not being ready for prime time. And it speaks not just to her bad political strategy. I think it speaks a little bit to character as well.