A cocky Chris Matthews on Monday dismissed the possible 2012 Republican presidential nominees as a "dog pound" and a "pig pen." The Hardball host briefly mentioned candidates such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, but focused mostly on Donald Trump and lesser known individuals like Herman Cain.
Talking to Republican strategist John Feehery and former Hillary Clinton aide Mark Penn, Matthews mocked, "This looks more, sounds more like a dog pound than it does like a group of people running for President."
The cable anchor then ran down a list of Trump, Cain, Newt Ginrich and Michele Bachmann, asking his guests if these people could be elected President. Matthews left off Pawlenty, Romney, Mitch Daniels and other possibly strong nominees.
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Later, the host berated, "You've got a majority of your guys in this pig pen are unwinnable."
In a moment of introspection, Matthews wondered, "We're sitting here talking about candidates who are wasting our time. Is it my fault or yours, John Feehery?"
A transcript of the April 11 segment, which aired at 5:10pm EDT, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We're looking at the actual announced candidate in the Republican Party. You're laughing again. Buddy Roamer, former Democratic governor of, what, Mississippi, Louisiana, Herman Cain, business guy down in the-- he's the Godfather pizza guy from Atlanta. Who else? Rick Santorum. You know, you really don't have a lot of winners out there ready to sign up. The question I have, if you have a debate right now, who would show up for it? Who would actually be out there in the debate?
JOHN FEEHERY (Republican strategist): Well, I think you'd have Newt Gingrich. I think you'd have Michele Bachmann. I think you'd have- I think you'd have Mitt Romney, I think you'd have Tim Pawlenty. I think you might have Mitch Daniels. I think you might have some of these other characters. But you know what, this kind of reminds me of what happened in 1991, 1992. The Democratic primary got off to an awfully early start and some little known governor named Bill Clinton, who Mark Penn knows something about, you know, turned out to be the only guy that was worth nominating and he nominated [sic] and he won. And they nominated him and he won.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, you know- This looks more, sounds more like a dog pound than it does like a group of people running for President.
FEEHERY: Well, we might have a governor that surprises people.
MATTHEWS: Okay. I want to try this list by both of you. I want to try this list by both of you, starting with this. Is there a good chance, a reasonable chance that Rick Santorum will be president next- in 2013?
FEEHERY: Listen, I like Rick Santorum but he's not going to be president.
MATTHEWS: Do you think there's a good chance he'll be President?
MARK PENN: No.
MATTHEWS: Is there a good chance Newt Gingrich will be President of the United States? Three marriages in?
PENN: Nope. I don't think it's about marriages.
MATTHEWS: Do you think, John- are you allowed to talk about a guy from the House, John? John, do you think he could ever be President of the United States?
FEEHERY: I like Newt. I don't think he'll be president.
MATTHEWS: Okay, let's go to Bachman, Michele Bachmann. You start this time. Will Michele Bachmann be president any time in her lifetime?
MATTHEWS: Okay. Michele Bachmann?
MATTHEWS: Okay. Donald Trump. Will he ever be President of the United States?
MATTHEWS: Will Donald Trump ever be president of the United States?
MATTHEWS: So what are we wasting our time for?
FEEHERY [Laughs]: I don't know why.
MATTHEWS: Let me give you the big ones- Buddy Roemer, Herman Cain, I mean it's quite a list of wastes of our time. We're sitting here talking about candidates who are wasting our time. Is it my fault or yours, John Feehery?
FEEHERY: There were plenty of candidates who were wasting our time last time like Dennis Kucinich. He wasn't going to be president. Ron Paul, he wasn't going to be president. You know, that's what happens sometimes. You get people who want to be president and they get media attention-
MATTHEWS: In this case- A weak argument. You've got a majority of your guys in this pig pen are unwinnable. Anyway, thanks very much, Mark Penn, and Feehery, you've got a good sense of humor. You're going to need one.