Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos," has ticked off Chris Matthews. On Wednesday's "Hardball" Matthews insulted Limbaugh's listeners, who are voting in the Democratic primary, as he questioned: "What kind of klutz do you have to be to take orders on how to vote from Rush Limbaugh and to change your party identity so that you can vote against, for somebody to screw the other party?"
The following discussion occurred at the top of the show on the April 16, edition of "Hardball."
JOHN BAER, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: And we have seen evidence in Pennsylvania of the kind of thing that was rumored earlier in the campaign which is Republicans changing their registration in order to vote. As you know in Pennsylvania you have to be a Democrat to vote in the primary. There has been evidence that, that's happened in Pennsylvania.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: To do what?
BAER: The Republicans have gone over, have gone over--
MATTHEWS: You mean strategic voting?
BAER: Strategic voting and vote for Hillary to get her on the ballot because--
MATTHEWS: You mean "Ditto-Heads." "Ditto-Heads!"
BAER: "Ditto-Heads," absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Do you realize what kind of klutz do you have to be to take orders on how to vote from Rush Limbaugh and to change your party identity so that you can vote against, for somebody to screw the other party? What do these people got to do, they have a lot of free time, I'll tell you that.
BAER: Look, I mean, I don't think, I don't think that, that's. I just think it's a very marginal vote. It, it may be just a couple of percentage points but there is some evidence that it's going on.
MATTHEWS: Well look there's a lot more evidence in my world of people switching over because they like one of the other candidates or they don't like one of the other Democratic candidates. Not that they're doing it to confuse the pollsters or confuse the results. Do you think there's more people out there to confuse the result or trying to make a statement?
BAER: Oh absolutely, oh absolutely not, absolutely not. I think that the, that the big, you have hundreds of thousands of new voters in Pennsylvania over the ‘06 election.
BAER: Over the, over the last general, over the, over the primary, the last presidential primary and the vast majority of them, there's no doubt in my mind have changed because they like Senator Obama.
MATTHEWS: Because they believe in something. How much is "Operation Chaos," influencing the election? Is it a small part of the registration drive going on in Pennsylvania?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think it's a small part because if you look at where we saw Republican spike in support for Clinton it showed up in a couple of exit polls: Mississippi and Texas. That's Southerners.
TODD: We've only seen, Clinton has done well with crossovers in the South, among Republican crossovers.
MATTHEWS: You mean for deves-, for chaotic purpose?
TODD: No, not for chaotic purposes! I think for, for purposes of that she's the candidate if the, you know they're gonna be picking between–
MATTHEWS: Yeah they want to pick the easy Democrat.
TODD: No I think they voted, they crossed over because they are, think a Democrat is gonna win so they want to pick the Democrat they're more comfortable with. I think there are more people in the South doing that, I think, maybe for racial reasons.
MATTHEWS: Oh but you're not, but I'm talking about this Rush Limbaugh thing. He says, he says, "Pick Hillary because it'll screw things up."
TODD: That is crazy! You know how many times campaigns have tried to do that? You, you know, you hear about it a lot of times in different states. "Oh no, you know, send out activists." It just doesn't work. I don't buy, I don't buy a, I don't buy it at all.
MATTHEWS: But John you say, John you say there are people out there trying to confuse the Democrats by getting them to pick the wrong win, the wrong winner.
BAER: Well and I also said it was just a marginal number, just a small percent.
BAER: But there has been some evidence.
BAER: You know as well as I do Pennsylvania has an awful lot of very conservative counties in the middle of the state and, and I've seen some anecdotal evidence that it's going on. Will it make a difference? Probably not.