MSNBC host Chris Matthews angrily blasted the campaign tactics of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party during an exchange with Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus yesterday, claiming some of the party’s attacks on President Obama were purposely racially inflammatory.
The exchange, which was captured on MSNBC during the show “Morning Joe,” got so heated that at the end Matthews and Reibus called each other “garbage.”
Matthews started out by confronting Priebus about the Romney campaign’s claim that President Obama was running a negative campaign while Romney has been running a positive one—which Matthews said was “not accurate.” Then Matthews referred to the joke Romney made on Friday in Michigan, when he noted that he and his wife, Ann, were born in Michigan hospitals by saying, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised.”
It was a clear reference to the “birther” movement, which is still pushing the falsehood that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
“That cheap shot about I don’t have a problem with my birth certificate was awful. It was an embarrassment to your party to play that card,” Matthews said.
Next Matthews pointed to the Republican claims, made by Romney on the campaign stump and also in commercials, that Obama has gotten rid of the work requirement for welfare. Members of the media, as well as the Obama campaign, continue to point out that the claim isn’t true, but Romney keeps on using it.
“It’s dishonest, everyone has pointed out it’s dishonest, and you are playing that little ethnic card there,” Matthews said.
He noticed that Priebus was grinning and laughing, so Matthews said, “You can play your games and giggle about it, but the fact is your side is playing that card. When you start talking about work requirements, you know what game you’re playing. Everybody knows what game you’re playing. It’s the race card.”
The other panelists, including show host Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman, tried to come to Romney’s defense, saying that his Michigan birth certificate line was just a ill-advised, awkward joke.
“You got your monologue in, congratulations,” Priebus said. “You were loaded up, you got it out. He’s from Michigan, he was born in Michigan, he’s making the point that he was born in Michigan.”
Priebus complained that the political scene has gotten to the point where nobody can take a joke.
“Any moment of levity is totally frowned upon by guys like you, just so you can push your brand,” Priebus said.
“It just seems funny that the first joke he ever told in his life was about Obama’s birth certificate,” Matthews said.
About the president’s policies, Priebus went on to say, “I think Obama’s policies have created a sense that for whatever reason he’s looking to guidance as far as healthcare is concerned, as far as spending is concerned, as far as the stimulus package is concerned, he’s looking to Europe for guidance. That’s the problem.”
Matthew was outraged at the suggestion. “Where do you get this from? It’s insane!” Matthews said.
Matthews pointed out that nearly every modern president has endorsed the Keynesian approach to stimulus spending, then he listed some of the presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, who advocated for universal healthcare.
“Were they all under the influence of Europe?” Matthews asked. “What does this have to do with Europe and the foreignization of the government. You’re playing that card again. You’re doing it now.”