CNN contributor Scott Jennings got pretty frustrated in a heated exchange with former Barack Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on the subject of how Latinos are voting in this election.
The two men, who were part of a panel on “CNN Tonight” with hosts Laura Coates and Alisyn Camerota, locked horns with Jennings eventually calling out Messina as an “absolute jerk.”
“We are talking about different states, different demographics, Venezuelans, Cubans, all of these things,” contended Messina during the discussion. He went on to say that Republicans have been able to woo Latinos away in certain places on the strength of local issues.
“The Democrats are having a struggle internally about whether we will be PC and say these great things, and call them Latinx and all of this stuff,” Messina said. “Or we are going to talk to voters about things they care about, like the economy, and education and things that every other voter cares about.”
Scott Jennings joined the conversation, agreeing that the GOP has made inroads with Latinos by appealing to them on the basis of their diverse interests, not just immigration.
“The Republican officeholders have started to treat Latino voters, Hispanic voters, like they’re every other American that has concerns that are broader than just immigration reform,” said Jennings.
“I think when you get in trouble in politics is when you say, ‘you have a certain identity characteristic, therefore you are only allowed to care about this issue that I associate with your identity,'” he continued. “So, if you’re a female voter and I tell you, ‘you are only allowed to care about abortion.’ Well, what if there are independent women that also care about, I don’t know, inflation, you’re leaving yourself out of that debate.”
Jennings went so far as to say that Republicans were likely to win the race for governor in Arizona, implying that Kari Lake had engaged Latinos on a range of issues. He also pointed out that Blake Masters has a real shot at unseating Mark Kelly.
“According to some polling, it looks like [Blake] Masters is close to [incumbent Senator Mark] Kelly. I don’t know if he will win…” he started.
And that is when it got contentious. Messina re-engaged.
“Do you want to bet money on that race?” he asked, clearly perturbed at Jennings’ logic.
Jennings indicated that he didn’t want to bet on the Senate race but that he’d be up for a wager on the governor’s race.
“You want to bet money on the governor’s race?” he asked.
Messina accused Jennings of “holding the Republican line” and blathered on for a bit before condescending further. “Enough with the talking points,” he said finally.
After that, Messina tried to nail him down. “Are you saying that Mark Kelly is not going to win the U.S. Senate race?”
“I don’t know. It is a close race. I’m saying Republicans in many states, most states are doing far better with Hispanic voters than we usually do. There is a clear movement in the polling and in some of the races that have already occurred this year of Hispanic voters choosing Republicans. That’s an absolute fact,” Jennings replied.
“Clear majority — so they’re winning a majority of Latino voters?”Messina questioned.
“Not a majority. I said there’s a movement beyond what we normally get. Are you disagreeing with this? It is a fact Republicans have done better with Hispanics,” Jennings shot back.
Jennings suggested that Messina’s ears were clogged from talking to Karl Rove, so he couldn’t hear what he was saying.
“The RNC gave you the talking points and now you can’t shift,” Messina snarked.
That knocked the cover off of the former Bush aide’s last nerve.
“I tell you what, man, do you have a single friend? You’re an absolute jerk,” Jennings fired back.
At that point, Camerota tried to regain control, but Jennings couldn’t be calmed that easily.
“I don’t even know you, and you come out here and insult me,” he said. “I don’t come out here and read talking points.”
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