stuck in the mittle

MSNBC Misrepresents Romney Speech, Invents Wawa ‘Gaffe’

Today, MSNBC aired footage of Mitt Romney marveling at the Wawa hoagie-ordering process during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, saying, “You press a little touchtone keypad — you touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier — there’s your sandwich. It’s amazing.” He’s so corny and out of touch! Except, the full three-minute clip shows that Romney was actually describing his Wawa outing as part of a metaphor about government bureaucracy. The guy may be rich, but he’s ordered a sandwich before.

The gaffe has been gaining traction today, with “Wawa” trending on Twitter and Matt Bevens, a surrogate press coordinator for the Obama campaign, remarking, “So out of touch he’s never used a gas station touchscreen.” Yet, in context, Romney was contrasting the simplicity of ordering a sandwich at Wawa with the difficulty a local optometrist had changing his address on government forms. He concluded, “People in the private sector have learned how to compete. It’s time to bring some competition to the federal government.”

On her show today Andrea Mitchell dubbed the incident Romney’s “super market scanner moment.” She’s more accurate than she realized. In 1992 George H.W. Bush was painted as out of touch after it was reported that he was “amazed” by the device at a National Grocers Association convention. He actually wasn’t looking at the standard scanner found in most grocery stores at the time, but new technology that could weigh food and read torn bar codes.

Wawa-gate is a textbook “Out-of-Context Gaffe,” plus, even without the edited footage, there was enough material for a story on Romney’s awkward attempt to embrace Pennsylvania’s local cuisine. He repeatedly referred to the chain as “Wawa’s,” not “Wawa,” and used the (unimpressive) touchscreen to order a meatball hero with pickles and sweet peppers rather than a classic hoagie.

MSNBC Misquotes Romney, Invents Wawa ‘Gaffe’