Political observers have noted for a while that Mitt Romney’s claim that President Obama gutted the work requirement in the 1996 welfare reform law is false. But few in the mainstream media have have gone so far as to accuse Republicans of playing the ‘race card.’
But Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” didn’t hold back in a tirade launched against RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Monday morning, accusing the Romney campaign of using race to defeat Obama. Matthews lit into Priebus, citing both the welfare attacks and Romney’s recent birth certificate joke as evidence that the GOP is “playing that little ethnic card there.”
“I have to call you on this, Mr. Chairman,” Matthews said in an appearance with Priebus on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” as he responded to Republicans’ criticism that Obama is running a very negative campaign. “But they’ve both negative. That cheap shot about ‘I don’t have a problem with my birth certificate’ was awful. It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card.”
Priebus pushed back against Matthews remarks. “Congratulations,” he said. “You’re loaded up, you got it out.” Priebus argued that Romney’s birth certificate comment was just “a moment of levity” and “everybody gets it.”
“It just seems funny the first joke he’s ever told in his life is about Obama’s birth certificate,” Matthews responded.
Though few have said explicitly that Romney’s welfare attacks are about race, it was a charge launched at Newt Gingrich, who made “paychecks versus food stamps” a central issue in his primary bid for the nomination.
“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” one of many Romney ads on welfare says. “They just send you your welfare check.”