Republicans are likely to go with Tampa, Florida, as the venue for their 2012 presidential nominating convention in part because evangelicals hate Mormons. That's the gospel truth, at least according to Chris Matthews, who yesterday went on a loopy rant that was pure bluster and completely unsubstantiated in its assertions.
[MP3 audio available here; click play on the embedded video at right for video]
Matthews informed viewers that an RNC selection committee had submitted its recommendation of Tampa -- the RNC still has to give its formal approval -- over other finalists Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The "Hardball" host than gave his theory behind why the latter two cities were rejected, failing, of course, to cite any sources nor to add the caveat that this was purely his own speculation.
Here's the relevant transcript:
Well the Republican Party will nominate its presidential candidate for 2012 in the city of Tampa, Florida, with big news on that the decision came today and when you consider the other finalist city it's a no-brainer. The other choice for the Republicans were Phoenix. They ain't going there because of the controversy over the illegal immigration law.
[The other finalist was] Salt Lake City, which would provide endless storylines about how Christian conservatives think about Mormons, regardless of whether Mitt Romney's the nominee. So, mark your calendars and book your tickets if you're involved.
It's Tampa for the Republicans in 2012 despite that lingering memory of hanging chads and a governor down there who's been run out of his party. A former Republican who may beat the Republicans.
Matthews's explanation for Phoenix is somewhat plausible-- despite polling that shows the vast majority of Americans approve of the law -- but his explanation for Salt Lake City is just loopy. Indeed, a more rational explanation is that both Arizona and Utah are fairly reliable conservative states, whereas Florida is a quadrennial swing state.
What's more, Matthews's crack about the "lingering memory of hanging chads" and the meme about Charlie Crist being "run out of his party" tell us more about the mainstream media kool-aid that the "Hardball" host has been guzzling than anything else.
The only people likely to obsess over the 2000 election some 12 years after the fact are likely to be liberal journalists intent on pounding out irrelevant storylines in order to distract the 2012 Republican convention and its nominee away from its substantive challenge to President Obama and his policies.
Matthews doubtless knows that, but to him it's all part of his "job" to ensure Obama's success.