Matthews: McCain Sounds Like Herbert Hoover

Chris Matthews spent most of Monday night's "Hardball," laying out a blueprint for how Barack Obama can hit John McCain on the economy, as he compared the GOP presidential nominee to Herbert Hoover.

Opening the September 15 show, Matthews greeted viewers with the following teaser:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is John McCain talking like Herbert Hoover? Depression or just depressing? Let's play "Hardball."...Did John McCain really mean to say the "fundamentals of the economy are strong?" Herbert Hoover, who presided over The Great Depression, said quote, "the economy is fundamentally sound." So is it fundamentally good politics to say, with the stock market plunging, that things are hunky-dory?

Then, in the first segment, Matthews kept pressing Sen. Charles Schumer about why Obama wasn't being more aggressive against McCain on the economy:

MATTHEWS: Why does your candidate not ring the alarm bell? Why do we not hear a political code red out of him? Why do we get this casual, almost Adlai Stevenson approach to the campaign from him?

Matthews also urged that Hillary and Bill Clinton join Obama on the campaign trail before it was too late, as he warned the Senator from New York:

MATTHEWS: Just don't let the cavalry attack after the massacre. I just hope they get there in time.

Then to conclude the program, Matthews advised Obama how he would attack the Republicans, if he were the Democratic nominee:

MATTHEWS: I'd go to the numbers, I'd read the numbers overnight, every time the President, or the, the senator from Arizona spoke I'd say:

"Let me read those numbers to you John McCain, you got a tough act to defend here and you gotta defend it because you're the Republican candidate, that's why you're standing here. You got an unemployment rate that's spiking, you got a debt that's growing. You've got a surplus that's disappeared into a deficit and you've got gas price at four bucks! Your side has blown it, don't ask for four more years!"

Anyway Pat Buchanan, Chrystia Freeland. By the way, I think we do it better here than they do. Join us again tomorrow night.

The following are more of Matthews' questions to Sen. Schumer as they occurred on the September 15 edition of "Hardball":

MATTHEWS: You know even before today, Senator, you know about this, we had an unemployment rate spike to 6.1 percent and I looked back at the number that it was in the Kennedy-Nixon debate, when they had that great debate. The unemployment rate was only 5.9 and Kennedy made it sound like it was the end of the world. Why does your candidate not ring the alarm bell? Why do we not hear a political code red out of him? Why do we get this casual, almost Adlai Stevenson approach to the campaign from him?

[5:08pm]

MATTHEWS: Are you gonna make him pay for intervening with regulators on behalf of Charles Keating? I mean that was one of the...most infamous cases, where you had five U.S. senators sitting down on behalf of a lobbyist, a guy who wanted lobbying on his behalf and he found U.S. senators to do it for him?

...

MATTHEWS: Okay I just study politics, I don't practice [it.] I look at these unemployment rates. It was 4.2 percent when President Bush took office, it's now 6.1. The federal surplus, we had a surplus everybody remembers. $281 billion surplus when he came in. It's now $357 in deficit, a year. We had a national debt of about five, now it's about 10. It's doubled. We had, the price of gas was a buck, buck-and-a-half, now it's about four. Everyone of these numbers says your crowd should be coming in, at about 2 to 1. Why are the, why are the polls even?

[5:11pm]

MATTHEWS: These people all supported President Bush. They have a phone they can pick up right now and tell him what to do. They can call up members of Congress in their party and tell them what to do. They're acting like they're you, Senator, like they're a Democrat running against a Republican administration. This is a switcheroo like I've never seen! If it works.

[5:14pm]

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. When is, and, and this must be frustrating to people in your party. I keep waiting to see the big campaign. I keep waiting to see Bill Clinton, one of the great politicians in history, up there campaigning in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan, almost like a buddy film with Senator Obama, your other colleague.

I can see them campaign together, having a good time, hitting the road together. I can see Hillary Clinton doing the same thing in places like Scranton, where she did so well, in Youngstown, Ohio. Why, is there a job action going on? Why aren't they, why do they keep talking about when they're gonna campaign? She went down to Florida, which is a reach to begin with. Why isn't she in the states that they can win? I don't get it.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Well I think she was in Ohio yesterday. She was in one of the battleground states yesterday.

MATTHEWS: Yeah?

SCHUMER: And she is gonna be out there, he is gonna be out there. You know everyone, before the convention, said, "Well when are they gonna do the job? And boy did they? His speech, their speech were great.

MATTHEWS: They were great!

SCHUMER: Unified Democrats. You watch, you will not be saying that three, four weeks from now.

MATTHEWS: Okay, okay.

SCHUMER: They will be out there in their great way and helping rally the cause. I'll tell you why and I talk to both of them, quite a bit. Because they care so much about the country. They know that McCain/Palin is sort of, their rhetoric, at the moment, is sort of, fundamentally, at odds with their beliefs, with their policies.

MATTHEWS: Okay.

SCHUMER: And that, they're gonna help expose that.

MATTHEWS: Just don't let the cavalry attack after the massacre. I just hope they get there in time. And by the way, I agree with you, I thought Senator Clinton's speech to the convention was exuberantly, unbelievably wonderful! What a great speech that was. Amazing speech! Anyway thank you Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the senior Senator from New York.

Coming up, much more on how today's 500 point loss in the Dow, on Wall Street, could change this presidential election. Does John McCain's statement, that the fundamentals of the economy are strong, he said that today, which is almost exactly what Herbert Hoover said back in the '30s. That the fundamental of the economies, the economy is fundamentally strong, sounds so much like it. Why did he say it and did he give Obama an opening to say that John McCain's out of touch? We'll watch how they do this. It seems like one of these sides has got to learn how to play politics. You're watching "Hardball," only on MSNBC.

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