Matthews to Obama: Are You 'Tough Enough' to 'Take the Heat' from 'Right Wing Radio?'

Chris Matthews got Barack Obama one-on-one on Wednesday night as part of "Hardball's College Tour," but didn't admit to getting a "thrill" up his leg from the Illinois senator's appearance. However, Matthews did ask Obama questions mostly from the left, like if he was "tough enough to take the heat," from "right wing radio," and warned him the "Republicans will bring [Jeremiah Wright] back."

On the lighter side, Obama didn't directly address Matthews about his leg tingles but did seem to make an allusion to it in the following exchange:

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about, at any time in this campaign, did you have a chuckle that you just couldn't get rid of? Something weird that happened, that was so crazy that you just went to bed laughing about?

OBAMA: Oh I think that, that happens about once a day. You know? But then I stopped watching cable news.

MATTHEWS: Oh!

[APPLAUSE]

MATTHEWS: I got another set of cards in the back room.

(Obama chuckles)

The following questions from Matthews to Obama occurred on the April 2 edition of "Hardball":

CHRIS MATTHEWS: And now we play "Hardball." That was the warm-up. How do we know that you're tough enough to take the heat from the right, from the radio address, from the right wing radio, from the right wing columnists if you begin to pull our troops out of Iraq and they start screaming, "Who lost Iraq?" How do we know you're as tough as Dick Cheney to ignore public opinion and do what you believe in? Because he's certainly tough enough to do it.

...

MATTHEWS: Most people believe that the intelligence was corrupted in this administration. It was manipulated by civilians with political and ideological intent. How do you clean out the intelligence agencies and let them know you want the real intelligence, you don't want a twisted case made for whatever policy somebody is selling at the bureaucratic level?

...

MATTHEWS: That said when you hear divisive language, whether it's from your preacher or from anyone else why didn't you walk out of that church? Why, when you heard that, what you called "controversial language," why did you go back and give him $27,000 in contributions to his church? Why didn't you just say, "He's on a different side this fight than I am?"

BARACK OBAMA: No but because I think that the, you know, what's happened is we took a loop out of, and compressed the most offensive things that a pastor said over the course of 30 years and just ran it over and over and over again. Now there's that other 30 years. I never heard him say those things that were in those clips and–

MATTHEWS: Yeah, but you did say you heard him say controversial things–

OBAMA: Of course, well, but I hear you say controversial things, Chris.

MATTHEWS: But you didn't give me $27,000 either.

OBAMA: Well, no but, but the point is the, this is a church that's active in AIDS. It's active on all kinds of things.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

OBAMA: And so the, you know, this is a wonderful church. But as I said, you know, look at the amount of time that's been spent on this today, Chris, at a time when we haven't talked about a whole host of issues that are really gonna make a difference.

MATTHEWS: Yeah I know but it'll come back. You know the Republicans will bring it back.

OBAMA: Well of course, of course it'll come back. And of course the Republicans will, will bring it back but the question is what's actually gonna make the difference in the lives of people right now who are on the verge of losing their homes? What's gonna make a difference in their lives?

...

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about, at any time in this campaign, did you have a chuckle that you just couldn't get rid of? Something weird that happened, that was so crazy that you just went to bed laughing about?

OBAMA: Oh I think that, that happens about once a day. You know? But then I stopped watching cable news.

MATTHEWS: Oh!

[APPLAUSE]

MATTHEWS: I got another set of cards in the back room.

(Obama chuckles)

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.