Published August 13, 2012
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, in her attempt to put Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate in context over the weekend, declared the selection is "not a pick for women."
The comment quickly caught fire on conservative blogs, and the Media Research Center pointed to it as an early sign of the negative coverage the Wisconsin congressman can expect going forward.
"(Mitchell has) wholeheartedly jumped into this war-on-women meme that the Obama people have put out," said Rich Noyes, MRC's research director, accusing Mitchell of trying to "amplify the Obama campaign's message."
Mitchell made the remark Saturday as Romney was rolling out his running mate in Virginia, suggesting Ryan was chosen in an appeal to the Republican base.
"I think you're going to see that they (have) decided that this is a base election," Mitchell said in her live report. "This is not a pick for suburban moms. This is not a pick for women. This is a pick for the base."
The comment was an apparent reference to both Ryan's opposition to abortion -- he is a Catholic -- and his position that the health care overhaul should be repealed. That law contains a controversial provision requiring free contraceptive coverage.
However, Ryan rates fairly well among female voters. A CNN poll from early August, shortly before Ryan was announced as running mate, showed 22 percent of women viewed Ryan favorably, compared with 15 percent who had an unfavorable opinion of him. A majority of female registered voters either had no opinion of him or hadn't heard of him.
A Rasmussen poll from July also showed slightly more women holding a positive than negative view of Ryan.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, with the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, called Ryan's policies "pro-life and pro-woman."
"He respects women so much, he even thinks unborn women should be protected and given the opportunity to live. For any media personality to suggest otherwise is absurd," she said in a statement.
Sarah Palin, in an interview on Fox News, warned that Ryan could face the same kind of media coverage that she experienced in 2008, but vowed to get his back.
"We will call out the media for their lies and distortions as they try to thrash his reputation and his record," she said.
Noyes, though, said he doesn't expect the coverage to be as personal as in 2008. Instead, he said, "they're going to go after his policy views and his conservatism."
Mitchell earlier ran into controversy over her coverage of the race in June when her program aired an edited version of Romney's comments about the convenience store Wawa, to make it sound like he was amazed that the store uses a computerized system to take sandwich orders. In reality, he was facetiously comparing the tech-savvy private sector to the clumsy government bureaucracy.