Matthews All But Apologizes to Hillary for Underappreciating Her 2008 New Hampshire Comeback

In a thoroughly softball interview – Matthews, in closing the chat wished Clinton good luck during Thursday night's scheduled MSNBC debate – geared at presenting Hillary Clinton as a sensible centrist progressive who holds the Democrats' only hope of presidential victory this year, Hardball host Chris Matthews tonight fawned over Clinton by essentially apologizing for not appreciating at the time the former senator's 2008 New Hampshire primary comeback subsequent to her stunning Iowa caucus loss.

"You know, I think everybody should have been impressed, maybe I wasn't as impressed as I should have been, but everybody should have been about the way you handled New Hampshire last time around," Matthews insisted to a head-bobbing Clinton via remote satellite hookup.

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"You came off the loss in Iowa, you went out there and you would stand there – it was like Bill Clinton standing there 'til the last dog died," he added, marveling how "it went on for five hours. It was incredible."

"Are you going to try to match that performance this time?" Matthews wondered, fearing the consequences if Bernie picks up steam out of New Hampshire and ends up eventually securing the party nomination.

"I'm going to say this bluntly. The only person between a confirmed socialist who's calling for political revolution in this country winning the nomination of the Democratic Party – which has always been more moderate than that – is you," Matthews declared, incredulous that millennial Democratic voters – in Iowa at least – have been eating up Sanders's talk of wholesale political change.

"How do you beat a person who's coming along in the primaries" and offering all kinds of free stuff. "How do you compete with a revolution of promises, really?" he asked, not once pressing Clinton about how the role which the Obama administration has played in hurtling the Democratic Party further and further to the left of center over the past seven years.

Here's the transcript of Matthews's questions, plus his fawning comments thanking Clinton and wishing her to "break a leg" at Thursday's MSNBC debate:

MSNBC
Hardball
February 2, 2016; 7:10 p.m. Eastern
Interview questions to Hillary Clinton
Onscreen graphic: Hillary Clinton Reflects On Iowa

CHRIS MATTHEWS: We begin tonight with my interview with Secretary Hillary Clinton. I spoke to the Democratic frontrunner earlier today from Nashua after she eked out that dramatic victory in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. It was quite a night last night. And I was taken with your moment of candor there, before the cameras, when you said you had a sigh of relief. Tell us about that sigh of relief, and what it meant to you.

[…]

Well, you know, The New York Times ran this story this morning that you were disappointed and I think it's possible to be both disappointed and relieved. You could have been disappointed at 9 o’clock but very relieved at 11 o’clock. I mean the times change during the course of the results come [sic] in.

Are both those possible you thought you could have done better with your field operation, but you're also glad you come out ahead?
 

[…]

I just love the way you snuck that in, it’s his backyard, therefore, he has an advantage geographically. And that we shouldn’t put too much stock into it.

But let me ask you about this, ‘cause I'm looking at these polls. There’s a range in the polling over the last couple of weeks on New Hampshire and it is his backyard. Look at a map, it's Vermont and New Hampshire right next to each other, a twin there. Between 6 and 33 points he’s got a lead on you up there. I wonder how much ground you can make in a week, ‘cause we’re only at a week now.

[…]

You know, I think everybody should have been impressed. Maybe I wasn't impressed as I should have been, but everybody should have been about the way you handled New Hampshire last time around. You came off the loss in Iowa, you went out there and you would stand there, it was like Bill Clinton, staying there until the last dog died.

You were out there on that arena, I remember you standing in I think it was a fieldhouse. And you went on and on and on, it went on for five hours. It was incredible, it was a marathon, answering every single question of everyone in that room. It really was a physical marathon. Are you going to try to match that performance this time? That kind of “I can do this thing.”
 

[…]

I know you've been saying nice things about your only opponent now, it’s really a battle since Martin O'Malley, Gov. O’Malley, has withdrawn. It’s a two-person race.

The only person, and I'm going to say this bluntly, the only person between a confirmed socialist, who’s callingfor political revolution in this country, winning the nomination of the Democratic Party, which has always been more moderate than that, is you.

So when you saw that rally last night, the young people all around Senator Sanders, when he yelled revolution out there and they all applauded like mad, do you think that's something that is going to help in the general election? Or are we looking at what we used to call in the ‘60s an NDC campaign? November Doesn’t Count. We just want to win the party, we don’t care about the general.

You seem to be focused on the general. How do you beat a person who’s coming along in the primaries, however, who’s saying, I'm going to give you all the things you want: free tuition, more Social Security benefits without any increase in your taxes, health care from birth to death, all the government paid, how do you compete with a revolution, a revolution of  promises really?

[…]

Well, of course, I think you're offering a lesson in civics, and I wonder if we could do that in a couple of weeks, now. Look, the history of the Democratic Party, your party, not Bernie Sanders, he's not a Democratic Party member.

Your party has produced the New Deal, it produced the progressive income tax, came from the Democrats, from Wilson, Social Security, the greatest anti-poverty program ever came from Roosevelt, and Harry Truman started the fight for health care and civil rights and all these good things that led to the Affordable Care Act.

But in every case, you had to battle Republicans who voted against it to the last person, and it’s always been a tough fight and you need 60 votes in the Senate and you need, what is it, 218 in the House.

If you don't have them, nothing gets done. Do the Bernie people need to be, taught, not him, he won't be taught, can the kids behind him need [sic] to be told this is how it works in our system?

You can call for revolution, but it ain't going to happen! This isn’t going to be a revolution, there’s going to be an election, an inauguration, and then there’s going to be a Congress sitting with you you got to do business with, no matter who gets elected.

Revolution sounds like a pass! You don't have to worry about logic any more. Just I'm going to have a revolution and pay for everything.

[…]

Madam Secretary, unofficially, not on behalf of MSNBC or NBC, congratulations on last night and your much-deserved relief.

HILLARY CLINTON:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And break a leg on Thursday night [at the MSNBC debate]. Even if you're the only one in the chair. Thank you for joining us today.

CLINTON: I'm going to be there!

MATTHEWS: You said it, I believe you.

CLINTON: Thanks, Chris. Thanks a lot, take care! I’ll be there. Buh-bye!

# # #

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.