Appearing on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Wednesday, just hours before night two of CNN’s Democratic debate, Hardball host Chris Matthews played debate coach for Joe Biden, advising the former Vice President to deflect any criticism of his record from fellow Democrats by simply attacking President Trump “over and over again.”
“He has to direct all the fire from his colleagues toward the President. No matter what Cory Booker says, no matter what Kamala Harris or anyone else who goes after him....He should turn everything against Trump,” Matthews proclaimed after Mitchell asked him what Biden needed to do in the debate.
“Don’t go on the attack” against other Democrats, Matthews warned Biden, just “attack the President over and over again, every opportunity to speak.” The liberal host further implored: “Talk about good and evil, be good, join with your Democratic colleagues against Trump. Every time turn it against Trump.”
Wrapping up his rant, Matthews repeated: “He has to be spontaneous tonight, wide awake, and defend himself by going after the President. Again and again, defend himself by going after the President.”
Rather than have Biden try to defend his own record or talk about policy, Matthews just wants the Democratic frontrunner to spend the entire debate taking cheap shots at Trump and hope no one notices his failure to respond to challenging questions.
Here is a transcript of Matthews coaching Biden during the July 31 discussion:
12:07 PM ET
ANDREA MITCHELL: Chris Matthews, you know Joe Biden so well for decades. He has been, let’s just say not as aggressive, not as focused as a lot of his own supporters would have liked to have seen. What does he need to do tonight?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: He has to direct all the fire from his colleagues toward the President. No matter what Cory Booker says, no matter what Kamala Harris or anyone else who goes after him, he should share with them their passion and concern for justice and opposition to racism. He should turn everything against Trump and not follow them back. No search and destroy missions tonight, Mr. Vice president. Don’t go following him back to Newark and how the police do – what do you call it – stop and frisk. Don’t get into any of that. Because if you get into any of that, they’ll say you’re doing to them what Trump did to Elijah Cummings.
Don’t go on the attack. Don’t fall for the bait. You start attacking down, you’re gonna lose. Because those guys are trying to get from 1% to 2%. You’re trying to hold your numbers around 30%. You have a totally different game plan than these other guys do, and women. So if I were him, I would defend myself, attack from a defensive position. Don’t go on offense. Attack the President over and over again, every opportunity to speak.
And he’s got a tremendous opportunity that the President gave him by going after Baltimore, going after Elijah Cummings. This consistent pattern of attacking big cities and their diversity and the minority communities is a perfect opportunity for him to go back to Charlottesville, how he began this campaign. Talk about good and evil, be good, join with your Democratic colleagues against Trump. Every time turn it against Trump.
MITCHELL: And, Chris, what if? What if he does not deliver? Does that open up this whole race?
MATTHEWS: Well, yeah, because I mean, a Canadian pollster once told me every great political leader needs three things – and this really does work. Passion, do you really care, do you cry, do you laugh, are you a person? Two, do you have a motive for being there? Biden’s not made that clear, why he’s running. And third, spontaneity. You’ve go to show the house is on, the lights are on, and you’re there. You have to react to what people say. You can’t have stunt, set pieces like, “There you go again,” or “Where’s the beef?” If he tries any of that crap tonight, any of those rehearsed lines, people are going to spot him and accuse him of plagiarism. He has to be spontaneous tonight, wide awake, and defend himself by going after the President. Again and again, defend himself by going after the President.