Matthews: ‘I Feel Butterflies’ One Night Before Iowa; ‘I Like Hillary Personally and Politically’

All three cable networks had extensive coverage on Sunday night for the eve of the 2016 Iowa caucuses and with Hardball host Chris Matthews among the cast of characters on MSNBC, there was no shortage of notable comments ranging Matthews admitting that he has “butterflies out there in the locker room” ahead of the vote to gushing that he “like[s] Hillary personally and politically.”

Right off the bat, Matthews told fellow co-anchors Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow that he had to “start by saying I feel butterflies out here in the locker room” because “[i]t’s a very strange time to try to be a pundit or a journalist in politics because we're into strange territory” with so much uncertainty plus the rise of Donald Trump in a religiously conservative state.

Noting that Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee were the last two GOP caucus winners, Matthews was exasperated that Iowa voters could very well likely “select a man with three wives in his lifetime, a casino operator, known best as a casino operator a hot shot from the Big Apple.”

As for the Democratic campaign, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker reported from Hillary Clinton’s final event on Sunday and hyped to Maddow and Williams that:

You can feel the energy here. It's electric. Clinton supporters getting really energized in these final days and so is the candidate herself, by the way, I've been following her since the moment she first announced and I can tell you that in these final days, she has really delivered some of her most spirited speeches yet, delivering her final pitch to voters[.]

Appearing with Matthews in Iowa, liberal MSNBC national correspondent Joy-Ann Reid took shots at readers at RedState, National Review and The Weekly Standard as being stereotypical Cruz voters who “go on there and really sorta sit there and write diaries about the specific issues they care about” and “don't really care about personality” when it comes to candidates.

Reid likened Rubio to the “Emperor of Doom” to further paint the picture that the Republican candidates represent negativity (while Democrats supposedly do not): “There's not a joyful character, but this isn't a joyful race. Even Rubio is the sort of Emperor of Doom at this point. It's all sort of glowerring and the country is going downhill.”

Later in the two-hour affair, Matthews flashed his true colors as a liberal and proclaimed that he “like[s] Hillary personally and politically” and finds her to be simply “great.” 

He also lamented how she’s not the most astute candidate when it comes to retail politics: “[E]verybody knows she can't wait to get in the oval office with the flip charts in the staff and start figuring out education policy and the whole funding for Title XX, but she doesn't like this campaigning.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s pre-Iowa caucus special on January 31 can be found below.

MSNBC’s The Place for Politics 2016
January 31, 2016
8:02 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, I have to start by saying I feel butterflies out here in the locker room. It's a very strange time to try to be a pundit or a journalist in politics because we're into strange territory. The polling, as you just pointed out, shows Donald Trump leading in Iowa. Now, think about that. This is the Iowa Republican caucus that picks Santorum a couple of times ago, that picked Santorum the last time. They picked Mike Huckabaee the time before that and all those years before that, unhypenated Republicans like Doels and Bushes and here it is, according to this poll, which is an excellent poll about to select a man with three wives in his lifetime, a casino operator, known best as a casino operator a hot shot from the Big Apple, from New York City.

(....)

9:17 p.m. Eastern

KRISTEN WELKER: You can feel the energy here. It's electric. Clinton supporters getting really energized in these final days and so is the candidate herself, by the way, I've been following her since the moment she first announced and I can tell you that in these final days, she has really delivered some of her most spirited speeches yet, delivering her final pitch to voters that she says she is the most experienced candidate and the best one to take on Republicans in the general election.

(....)

9:45 p.m. Eastern

JOY REID: Yeah, Cruz reminds me of the people that read redstate.com, right? Who go on there and really sorta sit there and write diaries about the specific issues they care about. He's the National Review, The Weekly Standard, so the intellectual movement conservatives who don't really care about personality

MATTHEWS: I think Bill Buckley had more joy than this guy. 

REID: There's not a joyful character, but this isn't a joyful race. Even Rubio is the sort of Emperor of Doom at this point. It's all sort of glowerring and the country is going downhill. 

(....)

9:47 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: And Hillary knows that — I’m going to tell you I like Hillary, personally and politically, I think she's great, but everybody knows she can't wait to get in the oval office with the flip charts in the staff and start figuring out education policy and the whole funding for Title XX, but she doesn't like this campaigning. 

REID: Well, you know, I think she's starting to enjoy it more. I think I'm seeing more of her enjoyment now, but the reality is what Steve said — what Steve said about tapping into the emotions of the party. I think Bernie Sanders is doing a version of the same thing cause I’ve got to tell you. The two big issues that will evoke significant emotion and negative emotion when it comes to Progressives, to very liberal people is number one, that the big banks, nobody went to jail after the Great Recession. There's this feeling that the Obama administration had the opportunity to put people in jail.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center