MSNBC host Tamron Hall lashed out at actor Scott Baio at the Republican Convention in Cleveland on Tuesday for what she clearly considers inappropriate social-media messages in the political arena, demanding to know whether they represent the “moral compass” that Baio wants to present.
But the confrontation clearly turned in an unwelcome direction for her when the “Happy Days” star cited President Obama’s “gun” quote.
That was in June of 2008, when Obama said, on the campaign trail, “They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy.’ If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun, because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”
Hall immediately denied Obama said that.
“That’s absolutely not true,” she claimed.
Baio had said, “You want me to be sweet and gentle to a man, a president, who says if they bring a knife to an argument, you bring a gun. That’s what President Obama said.”
He was right.
Ben Smith wrote about the comments at Politico during the heat of the 2008 campaign, just a day after Obama made the statement.
“‘If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,’ Obama said in Philadelphia last night. ‘Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans,’” he cited at the time. He pointed out that then-GOP candidate Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Committee immediately reacted to it.
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said then, “Barack Obama’s call for ‘new politics’ is officially over. In just 24 hours, Barack Obama attacked one of America’s pioneering women CEOs, rejected a series of joint bipartisan town halls, and said that if there’s a political knife fight, he’d bring a gun.”
The interview immediately turned confrontational with Hall challenging Baio’s comments about attending church, and his “religion.”
“One of the things that caught my eye was this tweet that you sent out July 10th, a photo of Hillary Clinton standing in front of the word ‘count.’ The O is [blocked]. So it appears she is standing in front of the C word. … Did you think about that in church?”
Baio, who also starred in the TV series “Charles in Charge,” said he just posted the image without commentary.
Hall pressed him.
“I’m just asking, you’re writing your speech in church, you talk about religion coming back to this country and us having a moral barometer. Where was your moral compass when you put a photo of a woman that you disagree with politically and that’s fine.”
“Tamron, you can look at that any way you want,” Baio said. “It’s the word count, that’s what she’s standing in front of, I just put it up there. There is no commentary attached to it, I didn’t call her anything. And the fact that you question my faith …”
Hall said, “You question others’ faith. When you say, we need to bring back religion, implying that somehow the moral compass for people that you don’t even know. … So is it the moral compass that you want to present to our children, to your fans, that you have this incendiary tweet about Hillary Clinton, and you certainly should disagree with her, politically, because you do. Or the first lady of this United States, Michelle Obama, regardless of color. I’m just asking, is that the higher Scott Baio?”
Baio’s tweet regarding Michelle Obama featured an unflattering image of her, with the reference to what Barack Obama wakes up to.
“You want me to be square and nice to everybody,” Baio said, insisting that he be allowed a turn to talk, too. “And you want me to be sweet and gentle to a man, a president, who says if they bring a knife to an argument, you bring a gun. That’s what President Obama said. Now, if you want me to go after a guy like that – all bets are off at that point.”
Hall retaliated with a Donald Trump quote.
“The person that you support, the person that you support – the person you support said, he could take a gun out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone in the head, and you would still support him. Is that true?”
Baio answered that Trump did say that, but then questioned Hall about Obama’s statement.
Actually, Trump’s comment, during a campaign rally in Iowa on the subject of how loyal were his supporters, was that he could “shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”