Wawa vs. Washington

Published in CSP Daily News

Does MSNBC's report mischaracterize Romney's reaction to c-store visit?

WASHINGTON -- Earlier this week, the media reported what can be called "A Tale of Two Wawas." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney diverted his campaign bus tour from one Wawa convenience store in Pennsylvania to another to sidestep a protest by Democrats, including former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.

(See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)

Now Wawa and the c-store industry are still in the spotlight as the media is reporting two different versions of the candidate's experience and impressions of the Wawa visit, one claiming he is out of touch, one saying his remarks were taken out of context.

NBC is taking heat for selective editing a day after presenting video of Mitt Romney seemingly awestruck by the process of ordering a sandwich at a c-store, reported Fox News. During a broadcast of "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC, video of Romney seemed to show a politician out of touch as he discussed ordering a hoagie at Wawa (watch embedded video; and click here to watch the unedited footage).

"It's amazing," Romney said, as the Pennsylvania crowd appeared to laugh. Then viewers saw Romney say, "You have a touchtone keypad, and you touch that, touch this, go pay the cashier, there's your sandwich."

What viewers didn't see or hear was nearly three minutes of Romney discussing the nightmare of paperwork faced by an optometrist he'd talked to in trying to get the post office to change his address. He expressed mock amazement at Wawa's efficiency to underscore how the private sector often runs circles around the clumsy bureaucracy, according to the report.

"We went to Wawas and it was instructive to me, because I saw the difference between the private sector and the governmental sector. People who work in government are good people and I respect what they do, but you see, the challenge with government is that it doesn't have competition," Romney said in a portion edited out of the segment by MSNBC.

At the opening of Tuesday's show, Mitchell addressed criticism over the misleading edits.

"There's been a lot of discussion about a conversation you and I had yesterday, Mitchell said to MSNBC contributor Chris Cillizza, "We ran clips of Mitt Romney in Cornwall, Pa., talking about his trip to a Wawa."

"The RNC and the campaign both reached out to us saying that Romney had more to say about that visit, about federal bureaucracy and innovation in the private sector," she added before playing the unedited clip from the rally.

Lauren Skowronski, a spokesperson for NBC, which owns MSNBC, denied that any deceptive editing took place. "MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers," Skowronski said.

Meanwhile, Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) told The Washington Post that c-store chains embracing sandwich kiosks include Wawa (600 stores) and Sheetz (416 stores), as well as Royal Farms, Tedeschi Food Shops, Delta Sonic and Quick Chek Food Stores.

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