On Tuesday's The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow ran down how racial undertones have once again become an issue in the campaign, in part due to two recently excavated videos of Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama.
The first video, footage of Obama addressing a predominantly black audience in 2007, is being promoted by Fox News' Sean Hannity, the Drudge Report's Matt Drudge, and the Daily Caller's Tucker Carlson. The three prominent conservatives seem to be arguing, Maddow said, that the footage shows Obama "revealing his secret plan to be way more black than he seems to you now."
On Tuesday's edition of his Fox News show, Hannity described the video as a "glimpse into the mind of the real Barack Obama." The Daily Caller called it a “racially charged and at times angry speech” in which Obama talks about “a racist, zero-sum society.”
Maddow said that the implication behind these conservative objections was, "people didn't actually know he was this black, and if they had known he was this black they wouldn't have elected him."
But Steve Schmidt, former advisor to John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign, thinks that the video is "old news," meant to distract from the high expectations for Mitt Romney ahead of the debate. This video "changes the subject a little bit," he told Maddow. "It's a bright shiny object, diverts attention away from the huge expectations."
"I think there's almost zero chance that we're going to be talking about this tape on Thursday," he said.
In another recently released video, recorded in 2011, Paul Ryan echoes Mitt Romney's "47 percent" attack, criticizing the 30 percent of the population that he says is perfectly happy to continue living off of the government.
"Today, 70 percent of Americans get more benefits from the federal government in dollar value than they pay back in taxes," Ryan said. "So you could argue that we're already past that tipping point. The good news is survey after survey, poll after poll, still shows that we are a center-right 70-30 country. Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want their welfare state. What that tells us is at least half of those people who are currently in that category are there not of their wish or their will."
The video was uncovered by Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post, and shows a speech Ryan gave at an American Spectator gala. Grim told Maddow that "the idea that that is your preferred state of being just shows the lack of understanding that people like Ryan and Romney have for people in that situation."
As Maddow pointed out, though the video is from 2011, the Romney campaign has repeatedly used a similarly-themed line of attack against Obama, erroneously claiming that he tried to gut welfare reform by getting rid of the work requirement.