Republican Fires Back at Matthews's Palin Insults

Chris Matthews spent the entire first segment of Tuesday night's "Hardball," questioning Sarah Palin's "intellectual ability" to lead but Republican Congressman Dan Lungren wasn't having any of it, as he countered: "You want to talk about my friend Joe Biden who made at least 10 misstatements in the last debate," and even made fun of Matthews' Obama fondness, as the California Congressman fired back: "Chris she does not send a tingle up my leg like Barack Obama does to you."

After playing a clip of Palin on Rush Limbaugh's radio show today, Matthews seemed dumbfounded that anyone believed Palin was capable of serving in the White House as he pressed Lungren:

Are you confident in Governor Palin's ability to help lead this country in complicated times? The person you just heard from, in one of the rare moments we've had where she spoke without notes, without a script?

After Lungren expressed his confidence in Palin's experience, Matthews made fun of Alaska's population as he told Lungren: "You have more constituents than the Governor of Alaska." When Lungren retorted with the "tingle" slam the "Hardball" host scoffed:

Okay, fine, that's a nice line. That's cute. Let me just ask you Congresswoman she was put on the that ticket because she was a "she," clearly. Because Hillary Clinton got, got unfair treatment and maybe shot got too tough treatment and I admit it, even from me occasionally. But the fact of the matter is the comparison between her and Hillary Clinton is the comparison between an igloo and the Empire State Building! There is no comparison from the person we just heard from.

A little later in the program, in a segment where The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and CNBC's John Harwood compared Palin to Dan Quayle, Matthews blurted:

I'm waiting for the first, I'm amazed but I haven't heard yet, one serious conservative commentator say this was a responsible pick for VP.

The following are complete transcripts of the exchanges as they occurred on the October 14, edition of "Hardball":

CHRIS MATTHEWS: We have to go to the Governor of Alaska, she made an important statement today on Rush Limbaugh. Let's look at what she said about her commentary about Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for President.

(BEGIN CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: It seems that you are the more forceful in speaking out against Obama and his campaign ideas. Are they giving you pretty much free reign to, to, to attack this campaign as you wish?

SARAH PALIN: Well you know there are just aren't enough hours in the day, I think, to get out there and....Rush I've got nothing to lose in this and I think America has everything to gain by understanding the differences, the contrasts here between Obama and McCain. So, you know, I'm going out there and I'm just simply speaking, so be it that I'm a simple talker, but I'm just going out there and letting people know the differences in how absolutely paramount that it is, that voters are paying attention and that voters are understanding candidates' records.

(END CLIP)

MATTHEWS TO REP. DAN LUNGREN: Congressman are you confident in having that person, we just heard from, as one of the two top people running this country in these complicated economic times? The person you just heard from?

...

MATTHEWS: Are you confident in Governor Palin's ability to help lead this country in complicated times? The person you just heard from, in one of the rare moments we've had where she spoke without notes, without a script?

LUNGREN: You want, you want to talk about my friend Joe Biden who made at least 10 misstatements in the last debate? I mean the fact that you've been around Washington a long time doesn't mean that necessarily you're gonna provide the leadership. Look what she did. She took on the, the Republican and Democratic old boy establishment in Alaska. She turned that place upside down. She met the challenges. She didn't take the conventional wisdom and accept it. She won, when people didn't think she could win.

MATTHEWS: Right.

LUNGREN: She dealt with energy issues that are very difficult to deal with. And now you're saying because she interviewed with somebody, well she shouldn't be capable of, of a job.

MATTHEWS: No I'm asking you, sir.

LUNGREN: I think she is capable.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Lungren I got great respect for you, I want to know if you respect her intellectual ability to help lead this country? Do you actually believe that she has the capacity to help lead this country in very complicated times? Do you? This person we just heard from.

LUNGREN: Yes, yes I do Chris, based, Chris yes I do, based on this. Her experience in government in Alaska. We're not talking about a state the size of Delaware. We're not talking about a state that doesn't have true serious issues-

MATTHEWS: Right.

LUNGREN: -dealing with the economy. Dealing with energy. We're talking about someone who's taking those on.

MATTHEWS: Well you have more constituents than the Governor, but you have more constituents than the Governor of Alaska, sir. Don't you?

LUNGREN: Do, do you want me to be Vice President, Chris? That's the first time I've heard you say that.

MATTHEWS: No I'm just asking, I'm asking you to stand behind this person we just heard from who has a strange way of expressing, I'm not gonna get into it. What do you think?

LUNGREN: I know, I know, I know!

MATTHEWS: I'm asking the question.

LUNGREN: Well wait a second! Yeah.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman this woman was put up there as kind of a response-

LUNGREN: Chris she does not send a tingle up my leg like Barack Obama does to you.

MATTHEWS: Okay, fine, that's a nice line. That's cute. Let me just ask you Congresswoman she was put on the that ticket because she was a "she," clearly. Because Hillary Clinton got, got unfair treatment and maybe shot got too tough treatment and I admit it, even from me occasionally. But the fact of the matter is the comparison between her and Hillary Clinton is the comparison between an igloo and the Empire State Building! There is no comparison from the person we just heard from. Your thoughts on the capability of, of Governor Palin to lead us through this complicated economic time. I'm just asking your view because the Congressman, on the other side of the aisle, seems to be hesitant to give me his own personal take on Governor Palin and her ability.

REP. JANE SCHAKOWSKY: Chris I'll tell you two things that really concern me about what Governor Palin is doing. One, I think she is running a campaign against smart. That somehow, that, that is a negative, when someone is a really bright and well-informed person.

MATTHEWS: Oh right!

...

MATTHEWS: What do you think Congressman of her statement today, on Rush Limbaugh, that I've got, quote, "I have nothing to lose, saying what I do about Barack Obama." Is that a, is that a, is that a competent statement to say? Is that a, well a responsible statement to say, "I have nothing to lose going after Barack Obama?"

LUNGREN: C'mon, c'mon Chris. What are you trying to make out of this? The fact of the matter is she is not part of the inside the beltway gang, nor is she part of the tight-knit Chicago, political Democratic machine. And somehow you're suggesting that if she had done what Barack Obama did, which is attach himself to some of the most radical aspects of the Chicago political machine that qualifies, would qualify her to be President of the United States or Vice President of the United States. We come from different experiences, different backgrounds. And frankly those of us in the West and people in Alaska are tired of folks in other parts of the country suggesting that somehow we're incapable of dealing with issues on a national, international basis. That dog just won't hunt Chris.

[5:58pm]

MATTHEWS: I'm amazed, well not amazed, I'm unusually bemused again, by, by Governor Palin's comment on Rush Limbaugh – which is a huge radio show, the audience is unimaginable – where she just comes out and says, "I got nothing to lose. I can keep throwing these darts at this guy. It doesn't bother me any." I mean it's almost irresponsible! The stuff she's saying. "Palling around," I never knew how to spell "palling around," it's two L's. "Palling around with terrorists." What an amazing statement in these post 9/11 times!

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well I gotta say I feel a little bit for Sarah Palin, sort of the way I did for Dan Quayle, years ago. You take a politician who has some skills and some talents and you elevate them-

MATTHEWS: Bring them on too fast.

HARWOOD: You bring 'em up too fast. It's like taking a pitcher in the single A ball and putting them into the World Series for the first time. That could ruin somebody's career.

...

MATTHEWS: But her vision is so narrower than her ambition. I mean when you ask her to say what she believes in, if you ask her any wide open question, you get air balls, Ryan. You don't, I mean she doesn't say anything. And yet she has this grand ambition to be a VP that succeeds to the presidency, apparently.

RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: Well look every politician, every governor, every senator in this country thinks that they would be a great VP candidate, so I don't blame her for wanting to do it, and thinking she can do it. I blame John McCain for, you know, I hate to say it, but being irresponsible in putting her in this position and if he were President, putting her in a position where she would take over when most, when by most objective measures she's not ready.

MATTHEWS: I'm waiting for the first, I'm amazed but I haven't heard yet, one serious conservative commentator say this was a responsible pick for VP. Anyway, thank you, especially these incredibly complicated times where it's hard for anybody to figure out what's going on.

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