Matthews, Mitchell Applaud ‘Sterling’ Hillary in ‘Extraordinary’ Debate; ‘One of the Best I’ve Ever Seen’

As they’ve done after a number of the debates thus far, Hardball host Chris Matthews hosted MSNBC’s post-Democratic debate analysis on Thursday night and, with the help of NBC News Clinton correspondent Andrea Mitchell, uttered a litany of noteworthy points ranging from Hillary Clinton being “sterling” on “an extraordinary night in American politics” to dubbing the debate “one of the best I've ever seen.”

Matthews received the first crack once the two-hour debate ended between Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and informed viewers that they were watching “an extraordinary night in American politics in the first and only debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders leading up to the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.”

Upon introducing Mitchell and the other panelists joining him in the spin room, Matthews sighed and stated that “I have no where idea where to start” but would first go to “my colleague of many years, who I trust implicitly, which is Andrea” to “[b]e blunt” and “[s]core this compared to the recent debates of the last 10 or 20 years.”

Hours following her fawning praise for Clinton on NBC Nightly News, Mitchell ruled that “this was one of the best I've ever seen and I've participated in a couple, but this was a chance for these two Democratic candidates to go up against each other and explain how they differ and they do differ and it was, at times, personal.” 

Mitchell also praised the co-moderators in MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd: 

I have to say my colleagues, not because they’re my colleagues, I would say it if they worked for another network, but the fact that Rachel and Chuck let them go at each other, steered the debate, didn't let it get out of the control and showed the contrast of opinion was really very confined.

The conversation quickly circled back to Matthews and he explained that there were “some distinguishing characteristics” coming out of the fifth debate with Clinton likely to “close the gap” in New Hampshire “based on her performance tonight, which I thought was sterling.”

Matthews then compared this primary debate to one of the most famous presidential match-ups in history with John F. Kennedy versus Richard Nixon in 1960: “[H]e will close the gap with her nationally. You know why? The statute of simply being on the stage as an equal in a mano-o-mano, like Nixon and Kennedy. Just standing to a lot of Americans, like, my God. He’s her equal.”

Tell the Truth 2016

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Democratic Candidates Debate: Post-Debate Analysis on February 4 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Democratic Candidates Debate: Post-Debate Analysis
February 4, 2016
11:07 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think it's an extraordinary night in American politics in the first and only debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders leading up to the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday. Well, the results will be next Tuesday night. At times tonight, it got heated, of course. Clinton described herself as a progressive who likes to get things done. Sanders called for waging, quote, “political revolution.: He attacked Clinton as representing the establishment and Secretary Clinton accused Sanders of impugning her character through innuendo and insinuation and what she called an artful smear. That's a tough phrase to use to describe what he's been doing to her. 

(....)

11:08 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: I have no where idea where to start. I guess I have to start with my colleague of many years, who I trust implicitly, which is Andrea. Be blunt. Score this compared to the recent debates of the last 10 or 20 years. All of them. Republican and Democratic.

ANDREA MITCHELL: I think this was one of the best I've ever seen and I've participated in a couple, but this was a chance for these two Democratic candidates to go up against each other and explain how they differ and they do differ and it was, at times, personal. It was pretty fiery. I thought that the artful smear was her toughest blow she landed.

MATTHEWS: The audience reaction on that one was wild.

MITCHELL: And they went back and forth and back and forth. Look, they've been arguing around and dancing around each other on who is more Progressive, who is more liberal, who can get things, who is more electable, who is not electable, but this was really direct contact and I have to say my colleagues, not because they’re my colleagues, I would say it if they worked for another network, but the fact that Rachel and Chuck let them go at each other, steered the debate, didn't let it get out of the control and showed the contrast of opinion was really very confined.

MATTHEWS: I thought — I'll just second that in quantitative terms least number of words spoken by moderators. Least number of words. You can't even remember their words they were so functional and direct. No calling attention to themselves. It was all about those two people up there and I think for a half hour they were mono-o-mono without any interruption which is what people have been dying for. 

(....)

11:10 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: I thought it had some distinguishing characteristics. One is they were pretty much heavy weights up there and my bet is Secretary Clinton will close the gap and he will close the gap a bit in the next few days based on her performance tonight, which I thought was sterling and he will close the gap with her nationally. You know why? The statute of simply being on the stage as an equal in a mano-o-mano, like Nixon and Kennedy. Just standing to a lot of Americans, like, my God. He’s her equal.

NB Daily Tell the Truth 2016 Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Debates Media Bias Debate Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Other MSNBC Video Richard Nixon John F. Kennedy Chris Matthews Andrea Mitchell John Kennedy Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
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