Chris Matthews -- who was offended by Rush Limbaugh calling the Obama administration the "regime"-- claimed the Republicans were engaged in a "Stalinesque" purge. On Tuesday's Hardball Matthews charged that conservatives challenging moderates within the Republican Party (like Marco Rubio versus Charlie Crist in Florida) was akin to Joseph Stalin's violent purges in the 1930s, as he teased an upcoming segment this way: "Coming up what happens to Republicans who don't march to the right wing tune? Well they're getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff."
Later on in the segment Matthews claimed the GOP was engaging in something "particularly nasty" in "pruning itself" and warned Republicans risked losing "sophisticated" voters in the suburbs if it continued to turn towards "Palin-ism and gun-toters."
The following Matthews quotes were aired on the April 20 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS TEASER AT TOP OF SHOW: Also Republican purge. Arlen Specter is out. John McCain, Charlie Crist and Robert Bennett are all being threatened on the right. Is this anyway to run a party or run it into the ground?
MATTHEWS: Coming up what happens to Republicans who don't march to the right wing tune? Well they're getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff.
MATTHEWS: Chris it seems to me we're getting into something here that I do think is particularly nasty. Chuck says there's precedence, and there may well be, but here you see a party basically pruning itself. Going around and saying, "Well we really don't like Arlen Specter. You go find something else to do. Go be a Democrat." We see this with Charlie Crist perhaps being given the boot. Bob Bennett, a real conservative, getting perhaps the boot out in Utah at some point in this process this year. And then of course John McCain who was the Republican nominee for president last time around. All being treated like, well, you know, like tissue rejection, like "You don't belong here."
MATTHEWS: Well I think watching this -- like all of us I study this thing – it seems like one of the reasons that the Democrats got 90 percent of the Jewish vote, for example, last time around for Barack Obama is not so much love of him or knowledge of him. It was fear of this theocratic, gun-toting party that begins to look more and more right wing, more and more Sarah Palin than it did two years ago. If this party, the Republicans, keep going over to Palin-ism and gun-toters and 2nd Amendment types, I think a lot of people in the suburbs, sophisticated people of all backgrounds, are gonna say, "That's not my party."