Like a steamroller, MSNBC host Chris Matthews ran over Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., in an interview about Sen. John McCain, the GOP and the nation’s economic problems.
The “Hardball” host assaulted Cantor with questions about Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s assertion that the fundamentals of the United States economy are sound. Cantor could barely get a word in edgewise for much of the September 17 debate.
“Let me ask you what he [McCain] means by the fundamentals,” Matthews said. “Not this nonsense about the workers being a good guy – we know all that. What does he mean when he says the economy – the economy is fundamentally strong? What does he mean by that about when we’ve lost maybe a trillion dollars in wealth in the last couple of days? What does he mean by the economy is fundamentally strong? What does that mean? Congressman Cantor – what does he mean?”
Cantor told Matthews that he couldn’t “tell you what he meant.”
Matthews fired at Cantor and the Republicans, blaming the “party that’s in power” for the current economic situation. He also accused Cantor of trying to “change the rules.”
“The way we keep score in American politics is the party that’s in power for eight years and runs the White House and three-quarters of the time ran the Congress and the White House takes the heat when things go bad,” Matthews said. “Congressman Cantor, you’re trying to change the rules now and saying if we take off our uniforms and don’t say we’re Republicans this week, the people will be fooled. I never heard of that happening in politics. You’re taking off your uniforms; you’re saying you’re not Republicans.”
Matthews yelled over many of Cantor’s attempted responses and argued that Bush was shirking his responsibilities, as if the president could correct the entire global economy.
“We are in a national crisis right now. I’m looking at the market every day and it’s scary and we have a president of the
Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Calif., appeared on the show with Cantor to give the Democratic point of view, but Matthews commandeered the segment and did it for Wexler. He attacked the entire GOP and targeted anyone with an ‘R’ next to their name.
“[Y]ou haven’t used the word ‘Republican’ tonight. Your party didn’t use it in the acceptance speech. John McCain never said the word ‘Republican.’ He never said the word ‘Bush.’ You’re trying to take off your uniforms and run from the field of political battle and claim you are not Republicans,” Matthews said.
“You’re claiming you’re running against this administration and I’m not going to let anyone get away with that kind of foolery. You have to take responsibility, sir, for the policies of this administration that has gotten us into this mess. You can’t walk away and say, ‘Oh, we had nothing to do with this.’ Can you? Say it if you want to. It’s your right. Say you had nothing to do with this situation.”
Later in the show, Matthews called Bush’s handling of the current market crisis his “Katrina” moment.
“I predict we talk more about the economy the next week, in tow,” Matthews said. This thing is so horrible. We have lost the American people, whatever your piece of this, over a trillion dollars in wealth in three days. This is ghastly, what's going on. I don't know where the president is but he’s not out there building confidence. He is in the White House somewhere. It is a Katrina moment, I think.”
Blasting Republicans was not unusual for the MSNBC host. Matthews, along with MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann, was removed from the anchor chair for the network’s coverage of live political events after complaints of bias during the Republican and Democratic conventions.
Nearly a year ago, Matthews and CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo co-hosted a GOP presidential debate that was intended to be solely about the economy. However, Matthews asked the candidates 49 questions and of them, 28 were not about the economy.