When the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, made an appearance to promote the Republican National Convention on NBC News’ “Morning Joe,” little did he know he was about to find himself in the wake of Hurricane Chris Matthews.
Matthews, host of the liberal political program, “Hardball,” is known for calling people out for slick comments and intellectually dishonest discourse, and this morning wasn’t any different. Putting the smack down on Priebus, he accused his candidate, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, of using racially coded language when discussing President Barack Obama and the agenda of the Democratic Party.
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“That cheap shot … was awful,” Matthews said, referring to a recent “joke” that Romney made about Obama’s birth certificate. “It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card … you are playing that ethnic card there.”
When Priebus offered an awkward laugh in response, Matthews said, “you can sit there and giggle about it, but the fact is your party is playing that card.”
While many Republicans have perfected the art of appearing insulted, while continuing to throw rocks and hide their hands, Priebus has it down to a science. He displayed hurt feelings that Matthews would accuse Mittens of such below the belt politics, and claimed that it was merely a moment of levity. That charged up the “Hardball” host, who continued to hold nothing back when he responded with:
“It just seems funny that the first joke he ever told in his life was about Obama’s birth certificate.”
Priebus refused to stop with the coded language, insisting that President Obama was “looking to European policies for guidance.” That little comment sent Mathews over the edge.
“Where do you get this from?” Matthews exploded. “This is insane.” He went on to accuse Priebus of furthering the same “Obama is Un-American” talking points that the GOP are known for proliferating.
See video clip below:
Preibus didn’t have much to say during the exchange, but when he made the conservative media rounds, he suddenly found his voice.
When someone wants to grab the flag and try to be the biggest jerk in the room, sometimes you just let them go…. We shook hands, but I will tell ya that someone from MSNBC, I don’t know if it’s a producer or somebody, has been trying to call us all day – I’m sure it’s to make amends, but there’s nothing to make amends [about]. When somebody wants to take the prize of being the biggest jerk in the room, … I mean, he made the case for us. This is the Barack Obama surrogate of 2012. This is what they’re all about. They’re going to be about division, they’re going to be about distraction. And I’ve got to tell you, the brand of Barack Obama, hope and change and bringing us all together, it’s completely broken. When people come to realize that you’re not real anymore, you’re not who you said you were, that’s a big problem for Barack Obama.”
It’s very interesting that he didn’t mention those points while he was being engaged by Matthews; but then again, a debate is always easiest when your opponent is not around to respond.