Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's "Hardball," ominously warned that the "activists on the radio," are "gonna pay," if "we have violence in this country against our president of any form," for having "encouraged the craziness." Matthews made that charge in a segment, with NBC News' Chuck Todd and the Politico, that began by the MSNBC host wondering if the GOP was "jumping the shark," with "these crazy town meetings," and declared "the clown show is over."
The following exchange was aired on the September 22 edition of "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Republicans. I noticed a little pullback on the, have they failed, are they feeling they're jumping the shark, to use a television term, with these crazy town meetings? Have they felt, I saw the Eric Cantor meeting in Virginia the other day, he's a smart guy. He wants to be president or whatever, some day. He's smart enough to know, is he – I'm asking – that it's time to cool it? That this crazy anti-government talk isn't improving any body's life. The clown show is over. It's better now to look like you're at least hopeful of getting a better health care plan for the country, even if you vote against it. Is that the Republican assessment right now? Based upon our polling?
CHUCK TODD: Look I've seen a lot, yes. All of the Republican, congressional Republican talking points shifted about a week ago, frankly, to "We're for reform too." You know, "We're just-
MATTHEWS: Yeah, I smell it.
TODD: You know. Absolutely. They know that there is sort of that, you're, you're making progress. And look in our poll independents disapproved more of the President than approve of him, for the very first time. We see shift in independents in the generic ballot of Congress.
TODD: So they're making, they made their case against the Democrats right now. So now they're gonna have to start shifting into making a case for themselves. I do think the leaders get it, the question is, don't forget you have your congressional leaders and then you have the activist leaders on talk radio and, and on the media. They're on a different page.
MATTHEWS: They, they, people the activists on radio are not afraid because they're not afraid of anything. But at some point if we have violence in this country against our president of any form or attempt, people are gonna pay for it, the people who have encouraged the craziness. And I get the feeling, at some point, the responsible grown ups like people who have [been] elected 20 or 30 years, who know what it means to be responsible officeholders, must be saying to themselves, "I don't want to be one of the people responsible if one of these Looney Tunes gets a gun and does something."
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: Well I agree 100 percent, but the base of the party, the core of the party likes the clown show. This is the energy that they haven't seen since November of last year. We were all sitting around talking about how the Republican Party was through. Well, during the summer, we were talking about, "Gee look at all these people."
MATTHEWS: They're playing with fire.
SIMON: They're playing with fire. Not with words so much, as the casual attitude that all of us are taking to people showing up at presidential events with firearms and we're not doing anything about it.
MATTHEWS: I'll say it again. The best., the best thing the National Rifle Association could do, and it hasn't done it yet is to simply make a statement. You have a right to bear arms. Don't bring arms to political meetings. They have the leadership to do it, they should do it.