Appearing on Thursday's Tonight Show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews went after the Republican presidential candidates one by one, asserting Herman Cain's "bad, bad behavior" with women, Rick Perry being "not even competent to be in this – on that stage," and a "hypnotized" Michele Bachmann being a "strange person."
Even host Jay Leno got in on the GOP bashing, claiming the Republican Party had become so conservative that "even Reagan could not get elected" in a primary race. Matthews touted Reagan as a liberal: "He was pro-choice in California....He raised taxes. He did a lot of things that these people won't do anymore."
Back in March, Matthews showed up on the late night talk show and similarly went after the Republican field as being "the weakest list of candidates I have ever seen."
Matthews began his rant by proclaiming of Perry: "Don't you wish you had his self-confidence?...This guy comes out and says, 'I have never done anything wrong,' anything!...I think the country sort of likes that in a way, the right-wing does....Like, Chris Christie, the governor – same kind of attitude of crankiness."
On Cain, Matthews seemed to assume guilt: "I think these women are credible. I think the two that have come forward are credible, and he has to explain that, his bad, bad behavior, if he did, if he did it.... And he's going to have to explain himself at some point and not just play, 'I didn't do it,' if there's evidence that he did at some point, but we'll see."
That was actually tame compared to Matthews' November 2 suggestion on Today that Cain had sexually harassed women while drunk: "He has to say, 'It was an extraordinary night, I had too many drinks, I normally don't act like that, this is not me.'"
Here is a transcript of the November 10 exchange:
JAY LENO: Let's talk about some of the other candidates.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, Perry's got – don't you wish you had his self-confidence?
MATTHEWS: I mean, you come out here every night, you have the self-confidence to walk out here. This guy comes out and says, 'I have never done anything wrong,' anything! I've got this Catholic guilt. If you accuse me of one thing I'll think of something else I did do. This guy says, 'I've never done anything wrong.' I think the country sort of likes that in a way, the right-wing does, because they're tired of apologizing for the country. They say, 'At least this guy this says get off my back.' Like, Chris Christie, the governor – same kind of attitude of crankiness. They sort of like it, like, 'Don't apologize anymore.' Say, 'Hey, out of my face, it's none of your business.' And he sort of has that attitude. And I think people said, 'Look at how impressive he is.' I mean I don't know if he's telling the truth about how he behaved with these women. I think there's something there.
LENO: You're talking about Cain now, Herman Cain?
MATTHEWS: Herman Cain. I think these women are credible. I think the two that have come forward are credible, and he has to explain that, his bad, bad behavior, if he did, if he did it. But I think he comes out with that self-confidence that the country sort of, 'Yeah, we want that back,' that sense of, 'Yeah, we can do it.' And I think people like that in the guy. He's the – by the way, we checked the polls tonight coming over here. He's eeked out ahead of Romney now. He's ahead of the polls.
LENO: Yeah, so you think he – do you think he will get it? I think it's going to be-
MATTHEWS: Well, I think he's got a long couple of weeks of putting up with these allegations, which could have a lot of truth to them. And he's going to have to explain himself at some point and not just play, 'I didn't do it,' if there's evidence that he did at some point, but we'll see.
MATTHEWS: I think he's better than Perry. Perry's not even competent to be in this – on that stage.
LENO: Right, right, right.
MATTHEWS: What's her name, Bachmann, I've always said she's in a trance.
MATTHEWS: I mean, she looks like she's – she looks like she's been hypnotized.
[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
MATTHEWS: In fact, one night I said to her, 'Are you hypnotized?' And if she was a normal person who wasn't hypnotized she would have said, 'How dare you ask me a question like that,' she just kept talking.
MATTHEWS: You know, she was in a trance. She's a strange person there.
LENO: I mean-
MATTHEWS: I think like – who's the only game in town? We were talking back before, I think Romney is a flip-flopper, but maybe the country's a flip-flopper. We change our mind it seems.
LENO: Yeah, that's-
MATTHEWS: We voted for Obama. If he [Romney] gets elected, we will have flip-flopped.
MATTHEWS: We will have not elected him [Obama] again. So, the country, right in the middle, doesn't know the answer, and they're trying to figure it out. So, Romney might be a practical guy who is smart enough to be president, maybe really smart. He's a business guy with economic sense. Maybe that's what we're looking for. He might be a tough opponent to debate with the President.
LENO: Sure, because even Reagan could not get elected in this Republican-
MATTHEWS: He's pretty right-wing.
LENO: He couldn't win these primaries.
MATTHEWS: No, he-
LENO: He was pretty open-
MATTHEWS: He was pro-choice in California.
LENO: Pro-choice in California, a lot of things.
MATTHEWS: He raised taxes. He did a lot of things that these people won't do anymore.