Chris Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, attacked Newt Gingrich with the same old liberal line about the GOP using racial code words, from Mitt Romney talking about welfare reform to Gingrich calling Barack Obama the "food stamp president." However, the former Speaker of the House wasn't having any of it, as he hit back: "Why do you assume food stamp refers to black? What kind of racist thinking do you have? Wait a second! Why aren’t you being a racist because you assume it refers to black?"
The following exchange was aired on the August 27, 2012 Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know, it’s amazing how -- you know how African-Americans generally, and these people have e-mailed me in the last couple of hours today, how they react to this? Do you understand they have a reaction? They think this is racial talk. That this whole thing about welfare cheats is just relentless stuff that’s never ending.
NEWT GINGRICH: I think there are a lot of people in America who listen to people like you who tell them all day, yeah-
MATTHEWS: Oh I’m alerting them now to this?
GINGRICH: -who tell them all day, every day how they-
MATTHEWS: So it’s my influence on them?
GINGRICH: You just had a panel where the guy who was black was telling the two guys who are white they were nuts.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, fine so what’s that mean?
GINGRICH: The two guys who are white are going “Gee why are you not more sensitive to being black?” I think Michael Steele knows he’s black. I don’t think this is a great shock to him.
MATTHEWS: You can laugh about it, but you don't think you've used it in the past? What’s a food stamp president?
GINGRICH: A food stamp president is a guy whose policies are so destructive, that he creates the longest unemployment since the Great Depression and he puts more people on food stamps, most of them white, than anybody else. Why do you assume food stamp refers to black? What kind of racist thinking do you have? Wait a second! Why aren’t you being a racist because you assume it refers to black?
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you why. Because from the beginning of paying attention to politics, Ronald Reagan would talk about the welfare queen, who was African-American. He’d talk about the young buck waiting in line.
GINGRICH: He didn’t say that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he did. He talked about the welfare queen out in Chicago.
GINGRICH: Who was, who was African-American?
GINGRICH: I don’t believe he ever used the term, “who was African-American.”
MATTHEWS: No he didn’t say, he didn't have to. He also talked about, let me try this.
GINGRICH: About a welfare queen who suffers?
MATTHEWS: How about the young buck waiting in line for food stamps to buy booze with? This is a history we have here. And this lingo is so clear to every African-American watching right now.
GINGRICH: So we’re not allowed to tell the truth about food stamps?
MATTHEWS: You sit here and chuckle about it as if it’s not game you’re playing.
GINGRICH: Wait a second! We’re not allowed to talk about food stamps because your sensibility tell us that 35 years ago? Give me a break! C’mon! Give me a break!
MATTHEWS: You've got that diabolic smile of yours, and I know you think you’re winning here, but everybody out there who’s black or white knows exactly the game that’s being played here.
GINGRICH: No, but here’s the game. You have the worst president in the last...
MATTHEWS: Oh, that’s your shot.
-- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.