Barack Obama may have given Chris Matthews a "thrill" up his leg, but the MSNBC host is pretty excited about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Matthews was so worked up on Monday night that he wondered if Republicans have "given up on beating" Clinton. Unsurprisingly, the cable anchor is unimpressed with the current crop of Republican contenders.
After discussing Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, he derided, "Have Republicans on the right given up on beating Hillary Clinton in the center? Have they given up on beating her altogether?" Speculating as to whether Republicans think voters will follow them "all the way to the ticked off outskirts" of where Paul and Cruz live, Matthews disbelievingly questioned, "Do they really think America is ready for a dance in the moonlight with one of those guys?" [MP3 audio here.] The host later speculated that 2016 could be like the landslides of 1964 and 1972.
Matthews mused, "Are the Republicans heading hard to starboard because they know they can't beat Hillary Clinton so they might as well have a good time losing?" He added that picking a candidate that will make Republicans "have a good time" "probably...spells defeat."
For months, Matthews has been predicting a Democratic landslide in the election that's over two years away. On January 22, 2014, he suggested, "This could be like the 1964 election with Lyndon Johnson being portrayed this time by Hillary Clinton, grabbing 60 percent of the vote because she grabs the middle."
On October 25, 2013, Matthews admitted to "giggling" with the "playful," "girlish" Clinton.
Partial transcripts of the April 14 segments are below:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: "Let Me Start" with the upcoming battle between Hillary Clinton and an as yet unnamed Republican for president of the United States. The list of GOP Contestants is not promising. If I were Hillary Clinton, I'd be singing to myself, "Is that all there is?"
To begin with, the whole Republican show at this weekend's candidate cattle call up in New Hampshire looked like a reminder of the party's wild lurch to the right 50 years ago this year, when it cheered Barry Goldwater and booed New York governor Nelson Rockefeller.
GOV. NELSON ROCKEFELLER (R), NEW YORK: And warning of the extremist threat is danger to the party --
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a bad day at Black Rock. And the hero this time around is Rand Paul. The one getting the bum's rush is today's version of the East Coast establishment favorite, of course, Jeb Bush.
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I heard Jeb Bush the other day, and he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love. And I said, Say it again. I didn't get -- that's one I've never heard of before. I've heard a lot -- I've heard money, I've heard this, I've heard sex, I've heard everything! The one thing I never heard of was love. I understand what he's saying. But you know, it's out there.
MATTHEWS: Well, it was just like that 50 years ago, the right-wing taking flight with Goldwater just as it's taking flight today with Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, blasting off against the moderate center, as well as the Democrats. Where's the thinking in all this? Have Republicans on the right given up on beating Hillary Clinton in the center? Have they given up on beating her altogether? Or could they truly believe that the voters of this country are angry enough to follow them across the political spectrum from Barack Obama all the way to the ticked off-outskirts home to libertarian Rand Paul and hard-right Ted Cruz? Do they really think America is ready for a dance in the moonlight with one of those guys?
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this thing we started with: this wild lurch of the Republicans, the one they're taking to the right in preparation for 2016. I do wonder about the cause and effect here. Are the Republicans heading hard to starboard because they know they can't beat Hillary Clinton so they might as well have a good time losing? Do what they feel like doing? Saying what they deeply believe? Not what will sell with the middle?
Or is it a cyclical thing, that both political parties have a tendency every once go with their guts, to abandon the main channel and go off with some tributaries somewhere, like the Republicans did back in '64 with Barry Goldwater. Like the Democrats did in 1972 with anti-war candidate George McGovern.
In either case, it's probably not definitely but probably, it spells defeat. It means one party, in this case, the Republicans coming up staking out the right while the other party stakes out the left and the center. What a strange thing to be doing for the Republicans. Eight years of being locked out of the White House, they give the other party, the Democrats, such an advantage right up front.