During a panel discussion after NBC News reporter Katy Tur's contentious interview of 2016 GOP presidential contender Donald Trump, Chris Matthews -- the long-time host of MSNBC's Hardball weeknight program -- surprised his fellow commentators by asserting that the billionaire can be as deadly as a former dictator in the Middle East.
“He has a lot of information on everybody,” Matthews told moderator and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. “He’s ready to go after a guy like Charles Krauthammer,” a popular commentator on the Fox News Channel. Trump “has already done the oppo (opposition research) on every journalist around. He’s ready with the worst stuff to throw at you.”
At that point, the Hardball host made an outrageous claim about the GOP candidate:
It’s like you used to read about in the days of Baghdad under (former Iraqi dictator Saddam) Hussein (who was executed on Dec. 30, 2006).
You didn’t want to be in a restaurant with one of his kids because they might make eye contact with you, and you might make eye contact with their girlfriend at the time, and you’re dead the next day.
“So it’s going to be dangerous territory out on that (Republican debate) stage,” he added.
While fellow liberal panelists Andrea Mitchell -- host of the network's noontime news program -- and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell looked on, Todd interjected that with Trump, everything “is the most, the least, the best, the worst. I don't think he ever heard of the term 'gray area.'”
Mitchell then continued slamming the GOP presidential candidate:
Well, you know, I think the average guy out there looks up at that gold tower. They see his beautiful wife and the way he lives and the fact that he'll say anything he wants, and they imagine a billion dollars.
Think of a billion dollars. He's got maybe lots of billions of dollars, and … he says what he wants, and they say that's what I want to be.
“He's a comic-book hero,” the MSNBC host added before noting that “the average guy doesn't want to be Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz. They want to be this guy. He moves like (famous singer Frank) Sinatra. He's got a lot of money and seems to enjoy spending it … and bragging about it.”
Continuing his theme of what “the average guy” thinks of Trump, Mitchell stated that a person making $50,000 a year is saying: “Gee whiz! I want to listen to this guy.”
However, he asserted that the GOP candidate is “terrible about race and ethnicity. He's terrible about the president being from somewhere in Kenya."
Also, he's “terrible about talking about rapists coming across the border when everybody knows that guy comes across the border -- a 35-year-old or 25-year-old guy or 18-year-old guy -- comes for one reason: to make a buck for his family and in a country that has jobs,” Mitchell noted.
“And that's it,” he asserted. “That's not as bad as most people are when they come across the border. He's the guy they could never become.”
Todd then stated: “Chris, I think you just gave the campaign a good idea. They'll probably put out a comic book next as campaign paraphernalia.”
Much of the rest of the interview centered on Trump's answer when Tur asked him if he's concerned about gun-related crime that takes place across the country.
The candidate stated: “Yes, I have a gun, and yes, I have a permit to have a gun” even though “that’s none of your business.”
Tur then asked if Trump would favor stronger background checks or “any other steps that you would take to make it harder to get a gun in this country.”
Once you get into that, you start getting into a situation, the slippery slope where all of a sudden you’re going to really violate the Second Amendment.
I don’t want to do anything to violate the Second Amendment. To me, the Second Amendment is very important.
As the interview drew to a close, Trump returned to his opinion of Krauthammer -- who had called the GOP candidate a “rodeo clown” -- as “a totally overrated person that dislikes me personally.”
Even though he admitted that he has never met the Fox News Channel correspondent, Trump asserted that “he’s a totally overrated guy, doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Judging from the events that took place on Wednesday, this presidential campaign is bound to be interesting from now until November of 2016.