MSNBC's Chris Matthews is enjoying beating the dead horse that is Marco Rubio's repetitive answers on Saturday night's debate. But in doing so, Matthews himself is continually trotting out the same talking points about "short-term memory loss" and sounding like a character from the 1982 movie Blade Runner.
As my colleague Nicholas Fondacaro noted, Matthews trotted out the line this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe. This afternoon guest hosting the 3 p.m. Eastern MSNBC Live with Kate Snow program, he returned to the well with the same line multiple times in the same hour, first in a chat with Rubio campaign correspondent Gabe Gutierrez and later in an interview with Donald Trump.
"I thought, I thought of Blade Runner, the science-fiction movie, where the imitation human being, the robot, was trying to repeat over and over, was trying to answer a question, became very sweaty," Matthews told Gutierrez, insisting that Rubio's repetition "worried" people like him, who fear that a President Rubio would literally repeat the same talking points during a crisis in the situation room.
"You begin to wonder about, you know, short-term memory loss. Did he know he had already said the same thing?" Matthews asked Gutierrez.
Nearly 20 minutes later, in an interview with Donald Trump, Matthews again used the 34-year-old sci-fi reference:
What did you make of Marco Rubio doing an imitation from the Blade Runner? He just started repeating himself, repeating himself. Six times! He repeated whole speech parts. What was it? Short-term memory loss?
Matthews's Blade Runner line is a new one, but he's long called Rubio a "robot," that is when he's not calling him a "sock puppet" who's fed lines by "neocon" "Daddy Warbucks" Sheldon Adelson.
Ironically enough, when he was attacking Rubio Saturday night after the debate, at 11:06 p.m. Eastern he had a teleprompter glitch which temporarily threw master of spontaneity Chris Matthews off script:
Special edition of Hardball
February 6, 2016; 11:06 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS to his panelists: Respond to this statement, Christie went after Marco Rubio again when Marco Rubio explained why [pauses]
[to producer] Move prompter please [pauses] well, I have no, explained why he backed off immigration reform.
Here are the relevant transcripts from today's MSNBC Live program, plus video:
MSNBC Live with Kate Snow
February 8, 2016; 3:07 p.m. Eastern
graphic: Marco Rubio Makes Final Push in NH
CHRIS MATTHEWS, guest host: You know, I’ve seen, I watched him yesterday, and he gave a great speech, but it was basically the same Marco Rubio, very symphonic, beautiful rhetoric, but memorized, every word of it memorized.
And I would have thought, well, people don’t change. He got caught five or six times repeating whole speech parts the other night in a way that scared some people. They wonder what was motivating this. People say he was harassed by, or, what’s the word, intimidated by Governor [Christie], what do you think happened to him?
GABE GUTIERREZ: The explanation that the campaign is giving, all they’re saying is they’re doubling, tripling, quadrupling down. I mean, today, yesterday –
MATTHEWS: But what’s their explanation for the behavior?
GUTIERREZ: The explanation is that, they say that this is his message. And sure –
MATTHEWS: No, no, but why would he repeat six times verbatim?
GUTIERREZ: Because they’re trying to make a point.
MATTHEWS: No, no. Verbatim. Nobody in the history of American politics has given the same speech parts more than one time in a speech. You begin to wonder about, you know, short-term memory loss. Did he know he had already said the same thing?
GUTIERREZ: He says that he has programmed his message –
MATTHEWS: I don't want to hear what he says, I want your analysis of it. You’ve been watching this? What’s going on?
GUTIERREZ: My analysis of it. Listen, I think it’s potentially, he had been hearing that Gov. Christie was going to come after him. He was prepared to take this on –
MATTHEWS: He said he’s a robo-talker. He repeats himself over and over again, memorized lines, so then he repeats himself five times in a row in front of him.
GUTIERREZ: Perhaps Gov. Christie got into his head. Maybe that’s what happened. He knew that it was coming. He had something prepared, he had a counterattack prepared, and maybe he just wanted to –
MATTHEWS: Didn’t he have more than one? He only had one!
GUTIERREZ: No, no, but if you look at that tape. Gov. Christie knew if he, he heard it and he handled it perfectly, and Gov. Christie was walking into it. He made it into a TV moment. A TV moment and, this is, the campaign comes back and says, look, we work in TV, they say that the voters, they’re just going to look at this as a bad debate night. And that the voters, all politicians are scripted –
MATTHEWS: Then they’re what I call committed voters.
GUTIERREZ: What’s that?
MATTHEWS: I thought, I thought of Blade Runner, the science-fiction movie, where the imitation human being, the robot, was trying to repeat over and over, was trying to answer a question, became very sweaty.
GUTIERREZ: But that’s always been the knock on Rubio. Do you think that that’s going to be the knockout blow?
MATTHEWS: Maybe not. If people don’t care about that kind of behavior they’re different than me. I’d be worried about a guy like that.
GUTIERREZ: Yeah, well, the question right now is what’s going to happen next. Are his voters going to go to Kasich or are they going to go to Bush?
MATTHEWS: What happens when something happens that’s really shattering in the world and the guy starts repeating old lines over and over again with people in the Oval Office or the situation room? Suppose a guy in the situation room starts talking over and over again the same lines? You’d be scared to death!
GUTIERREZ: Listen: he had a bad night in the debate. They say he moved on.
MATTHEWS: That’s spin. Bad night to spin.
GUTIERREZ: Uh, huh, bad night to spin.
MATTHEWS: Keep punching, Gabe. Keep gettin’ in there. Come back and tell me what’s in that guy’s head.
Anyway, thank you so much. I’m giving you a hard time. Thank you so much.
Gabe’s been covering, and will be covering, the Rubio campaign. It ain’t going away, obviously.
3:26 p.m. Eastern
graphic: Trump One-on-One with Chris Matthews
MATTHEWS: What did you make of Marco Rubio doing an imitation from the Blade Runner? He just started repeating himself, repeating himself. Six times! He repeated whole speech parts. What was it? Short-term memory loss?
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