MSNBC's Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough agreed Tuesday morning that Hillary Clinton's declaration of victory in the Iowa caucuses Monday night before the vote totals were finalized and media outlets were prepared to call the contest feeds into the perception that she is disingenuous and untrustworthy.
Scarborough criticized Clinton on Morning Joe for announcing that she won Iowa while the race was deadlocked between her and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt), with no clear victor.
“It seems to me,” Scarborough began, “if you're Hillary Clinton and you have trouble with people trusting you, trusting your honesty, trusting your integrity, if you go out and declare something that you [Chuck Todd] and Brian Williams and everybody else on TV is saying is nonsense, and then you go out on the stage and you pretend that you have won and you hug everybody and you go, ‘Thank you. Oh boy, that was close,’ while the political gun is pointed like right at the middle of your campaign, doesn't that feed into the already existing perception that she's disingenuous at best?”
“That's what made the decision to declare before the networks did so risky,” Todd said in response. “It would have been a disaster, though, had the numbers gone the other way.”
Todd also said that Iowa caucus officials could still be double-checking the results, and it still may be possible for Sanders to be declared the winner.
“I get why they – well, I don't get why they [Hillary Clinton's campaign] did it,” Todd added. “I guess they thought Sanders was going to hurry up and declare victory before them. That's the only thing I could think of.”
Scarborough struck a harsher tone, saying that some Iowans may have wondered “why are they lying and pretending that they know something that none of us know” when it was not clear whether Clinton had won or not.
“I'm just shocked, Mika. The Clintons playing by their own rules,” Scarborough added sarcastically.
Clinton has had to battle low poll numbers when it comes to honesty and trustworthiness throughout the campaign, in large part because of the controversy surrounding her role in the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks. She has also been accused by some commentators of feeling above the law as the ongoing FBI investigation into her private email server continues.
Clinton and Sanders virtually tied the Iowa caucus, with each candidate getting between 49 and 50 percent of the vote. While Clinton is projected to be the winner and just edge out Sanders, the former secretary of state declared victory before officials were prepared to designate a winner, causing some people to criticize the move as dishonest.
The race was so close that at least six of the Iowa precincts had to be decided by a coin toss, all of which were won by Clinton.
Despite likely finishing second, Sanders is upbeat and optimistic about the results because he has surged in recent months in Iowa after trailing by huge margins.
Now the race moves to New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on Feb. 9. Sanders maintains a big lead in polls there and is expected to win the state.
The Clinton campaign believes it will win the nomination even with a shaky start in Iowa and a loss in New Hampshire because of Clinton's widespread support with minorities in the South, but the Sanders team has argued such a start would give the Senator from Vermont all the momentum going forward.