NBC Asks Second Gentleman: GOP ‘Attacks’ on VP Sexist and Racist?

During a softball chat with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff aired on NBC’s Today show Thursday morning, chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander whined about Republican criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris and suggested that it must be motivated by sexism or racism. Later in the friendly exchange, the liberal reporter also urged a Harris presidential run.

“Emhoff says he prefers to steer clear of politics, but his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, is facing renewed scrutiny after Wednesday’s announcement that she’ll go to the border for the first time tomorrow,” Alexander lamented. He then complained to Emhoff that “Republicans have made a big thing out of this” and asked: “Former President Trump today said the reason she’s going this week is because he’s going next week. What do you make of that?”

Emhoff laughably insisted: “Kamala Harris is not driven by any political issues or political pressure.”

Rather than challenge such an absurd claim, Alexander instead pressed the Vice President’s spouse to lash out at the GOP: “You’re a husband. When you see the attacks, when you see the criticism, what do you think?” Moments later, the correspondent concluded that critics of Harris must be sexist and racist: “As the first woman, black, South Asian vice president, do you think that your wife is treated differently because she’s a woman and a woman of color?”

In another portion of the exclusive interview, Alexander hoped Harris would be running for president again in the future: “A lot of people are already talking about who the next president’s going to be. Do you want her to run? Is that something you guys talk about?” Emhoff dodged: “We are two people who are not talking about that. We are just so focused on – ” A disappointed Alexander interrupted: “So that’s hard for me to believe. You walk into the White House. You don’t ever say, ‘Man, could you imagine being here?’”

Emhoff claimed: “We’ve spent zero seconds talking about that. Just so focused on the task at hand.”

Wrapping up the segment, Alexander pushed spin that Harris’s recent disastrous foreign trip to Latin America actually went well: “As for the Vice President’s trip to the border tomorrow, he called her recent visit to Mexico and Guatemala successful, despite criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, and says this is just the next phase in her effort to address the root causes of migration.”

Just imagine the hostile interrogation Karen Pence would have faced if Alexander grilled her about former Vice President Mike Pence. The focus would not have been on hang-wringing over criticism from Democrats.

This effort to paint Harris as the victim was brought to viewers by IHOP and Kohl’s. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a full transcript of the June 24 segment:

7:42 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We’re back with an NBC News exclusive conversation with the nation’s first ever Second Gentleman.

CRAIG MELVIN: That’s right, Doug Emhoff got that title when his wife, Kamala Harris, made history as the first woman to become vice president. And as she breaks barriers in her role, Emhoff is defining his own.

HODA KOTB: NBC’s chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander sat down with him in Chicago, his very first interview since the inauguration. Hey, Peter, good morning.

PETER ALEXANDER: Craig, Hoda, Savannah, good morning to all of you. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff tells me that he is not a political advisor for his wife, just really a proud husband, he says, trying to support her and the Biden administration. He’s already embracing this role, traveling to 17 states in these first several months, focusing heavily on beating the pandemic. As you noted, I caught up with him in Chicago yesterday, where he was promoting vaccinations, especially for communities of color. Even as the White House concedes it will fall short of its goal to have 70% of adults with one shot by the Fourth of July.

The nation’s first Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, is out front in the effort to combat COVID.

DOUG EMHOFF: It’s going to be fine. I’ve had mine two times. No problem!

ALEXANDER: How do you convince the hold-outs to get a shot?

EMHOFF: Just try to talk about facts. They’re safe. They’re effective. They’re free. They’re available. And they work.

ALEXANDER: Emhoff says he prefers to steer clear of politics, but his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, is facing renewed scrutiny after Wednesday’s announcement that she’ll go to the border for the first time tomorrow.

As you’ve witnessed, Republicans have made a big thing out of this. Former President Trump today said the reason she’s going this week is because he’s going next week. What do you make of that?

EMHOFF: Kamala Harris is not driven by any political issues or political pressure. She’s really just doing what the right thing is to do for this very important job that the president entrusted her with.

ALEXANDER: You’re a husband. When you see the attacks, when you see the criticism, what do you think?

EMHOFF: Look, you’re a husband, too, Peter. No one wants to see anyone they love attacked or criticized, but that’s part of what she signed up for in this life of public service. It’s part of the territory, and for her, like if you could see what I see behind the scenes, she’s just focused on the work, working hard, and getting it done for the American people.

ALEXANDER: As the first woman, black, South Asian vice president, do you think that your wife is treated differently because she’s a woman and a woman of color?

EMHOFF: Probably. But so what? I mean, she has faced challenges as a groundbreaker her whole career. I think she said at times, you know, there’s – when you’re breaking barriers, there is breaking involved, and breaking means you might get cut sometimes, but that’s okay. It’s worth it because she is leading a path for others.

ALEXANDER: Emhoff left a successful career as an entertainment lawyer to support his wife’s ambitions. What message do you hope that your experience sends to other men?

EMHOFF: Men have to step up and step up for the people that they love and actually show it. It’s manly to love and care about others.

ALEXANDER: Still, Emhoff admits being thrust into the glaring public spotlight has been jarring. The moment his new reality sunk in?

EMHOFF: It was the COVID memorial on the Lincoln steps and the reflecting pond. And that’s when it really hit me. Oh, my goodness, this is really happening.

ALEXANDER: It sunk in then.

EMHOFF: I mean, the cameras and the Secret Service and you walk out and there was soon-to-be President Biden and the First Lady.

ALEXANDER: There have been light moments, too, like in April when he was caught on camera blowing kisses to his wife ahead of the President’s joint address. A clip that went virtual.

Do you ever stop in those moments and think, how did I get here?

EMHOFF: Every minute of every day. And sometimes she and I will look at each other and just – I’ll say, “You’re the Vice President of the United States.” And she’ll say, “You’re the Second Gentleman of the United States.” So it’s just – it is a little surreal.

ALEXANDER: A lot of people are already talking about who the next president’s going to be. Do you want her to run? Is that something you guys talk about?

EMHOFF: We are two people who are not talking about that. We are just so focused on –

ALEXANDER: So that’s hard for me to believe. You walk into the White House. You don’t ever say, “Man, could you imagine being here?”

EMHOFF: We’ve spent zero seconds talking about that. Just so focused on the task at hand.

ALEXANDER: His wife, of course, not the only history maker in the family. Mr. Emhoff is the first Jewish spouse of a vice president. He tells me that he feels this unique responsibility to speak out against hate and the recent rise in anti-Semitism.

As for the Vice President’s trip to the border tomorrow, he called her recent visit to Mexico and Guatemala successful, despite criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, and says this is just the next phase in her effort to address the root causes of migration. Back you guys.

KOTB: Alright, Peter Alexander. Peter, thanks. Of course there is going to be more of your interview tonight on Nightly News. Thanks, Peter.

MELVIN: Fascinating conversation, buddy.

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