"Well, then they're stupid out there if they fall for this!"
That's how an angry Chris Matthews erupted at Dallas Morning News columnist Wayne Slater as he suggested that Texas Gov. Rick Perry's sending 1,000 National Guardsmen to the border with Mexico would "play" well with Republican voters -- and potential 2016 caucus goers -- in western Iowa. "They're stupid, why would anybody fall for this claptrap?" Matthews blustered, adding, "what is the purpose of [an illegal immigrant child] seeing a guy with a rifle wearing fatigues?"
"You're right, it's window dressing," the liberal Slater replied, agreeing on the substance of the question as Texas National Guard would lack the legal authority to arrest or detain immigrants crossing the border anyway.
Moments later, Slater gave an opening for Matthews to backpedal a bit on having slammed Iowa Republicans as "stupid," but Matthews took an opportunity to double down while mocking Gov. Perry's now-infamous "oops" debate moment (emphasis mine):
SLATER: Ask yourself this. The Perry idea, the idea that was embraced, and will be embraced in Iowa and South Carolina and northern Florida basically says I'm going to militarize the border -- it ain't popular on the border, not with the sheriffs and others. I'm going to send people that can shoot children -- not that they will, but have the authority to shoot children but not ask for their papers. But, whether you think that they're stupid or not, and I know what you're saying, in Iowa--
MATTHEWS: No, stupid if they buy this.
SLATER: I think it's a heck of an applause line. I've seen Perry do it before. I think others are going to say the same kind of thing. If they really wanted to solve the problem down there in a bipartisan way, they would approve a portion of the millions, billions that the president has asked for to deal with humanitarian aid and to deal with beefing up the border, but to do that, you would have to embrace Barack Obama and Republicans don't want to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, if they fall for the fact that the guy who said "Oops" because he couldn't remember the government agencies he wants to get rid of and there's only three of them, if they fell for the fact that he's now wearing glasses and he must be smarter, they might fall for this baby.