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Matthews Takes GOP 'Economic Issue' Debate to Iraq and Beyond

     CNBC billed the October 9 “Your Money Your Vote” Republican presidential debate as one that would confront important economic issues for the presidential election. It didn’t stop there. Other topics included catching bin Laden, the war in Iraq, a third political party and policing the Internet.

     CNBC billed the October 9 “Your Money Your Vote” Republican presidential debate as one that would confront important economic issues for the presidential election. It didn’t stop there. Other topics included catching bin Laden, the war in Iraq, a third political party and policing the Internet.

 

     “Senator McCain, this is close to your heart – how would you catch bin Laden?” Matthews asked in one of the more memorable non-economic moments.

 

     While there were four questioners, co-moderator Chris Matthews was the most obvious in asking questions that had little to do with the economy. Out of his 49 questions, 28 were largely non-economic – ranging from the bin Laden question to concerns about whether the candidates would support the GOP nominee. Matthews’ objectivity had recently been questioned following his comments critical of the Bush administration.

 

     The other three journalists combined asked an almost identical number of questions, but only four of those weren’t about economic or business issues.

 

     That wasn’t how things started. “Well, it’s a very exciting day today here as CNBC, MSNBC, and The Wall Street Journal host the first Republican debate specifically on business and the economy live from Dearborn, Michigan,” CNBC “Closing Bell” host Dylan Ratigan said on the October 9 program. “And, yes, my partner, our friend on this show, Maria Bartiromo is there as one of the moderators.”

 

     And CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo concurred.

 

     “[W]ell, we’re coming to you from the Ford Performing Arts Center,” Bartiromo said. “And there’s a lot of buzz and excitement around. We're just about an hour away from the debate and of course, this is the first national presidential debate focused only on economic issues. We'll be talking taxes, trade, housing, broad economy, foreign relations, protectionism.”

 

     That wasn’t necessarily the case. Both Bartiromo and co-moderator Chris Matthews strayed from economic issues throughout the debate.

 

     Matthews also strayed into more cultural issues – “[H]ow would you police the Internet, culturally? You know, the whole question is about the stuff going on – predators, that sort of thing. How we do it?” he asked former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

 

     Even throughout the debate, the words “The Republicans, The Economy & You,” were flashed across the screen, but there Matthews’ questioning strayed into less-economic based questions and into foreign policy questions like the Iraq War – talking points often used by the Democratic candidates.