Chris Matthews Dubs Himself the 'Great Communicator' for Getting Huntsman to Parrot His Lines

This may not be the endorsement Jon Huntsman wants. MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday touted the Republcian presidential candidate's apparent acquiescence to a demand he made in an advertisement for Hardball. The journalist was so pleased, he dubbed himself, "the great communicator."

Matthews praised the moderate Republican for answering "the call I made during that promotional ad I was very happy to do when I said the Republican presidential candidates ought to have the courage to stand up and say that Barack Obama is as much an American as they are."

[See video below MP3 audio here.]

The anchor then played a clip of the spot in which he implored any 2012 GOP candidate to say, "[Obama is] as much of an American as I am. Let's move on to the issues." He then highlighted a snippet from a similar-sounding Huntsman speech: "But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is, who will be the better president, not who's the better American?"

Matthews gushed that Huntsman's line made a "tear come to my eye." He then bragged, "Maybe I'm the great communicator at least once a week in my life. But he did seem to be responding to the tag that I put on those guys."

A transcript of the June 28 exchange, which aired at 5:20pm EDT, follows:


CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, it's interesting, Ron, that it was the St. Louis Post Dispatch that wrote the other day that Jon Huntsman answered the call I made during that promotional ad I was very happy to do when I said the Republican presidential candidates ought to have the courage to stand up and say that Barack Obama is as much an American as they are. Let's listen to the ad, because this is what Huntsman seemed to be responding to.

[Hardball ad]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know, I think that one of things we're going to see in the 2012 presidential election is whether one of the Republicans stands up and says, "I disagree with Obama on taxes, on the size of government, and some foreign policy issues but he's as much American as I am." And you know what the problem in this election of 2012 is? They won't say that. They ought to just say, "He's as much of an American as I am. Let's move on to the issues.

[Ad ends]

MATTHEWS: Well, here's Jon Huntsman taking the high road on that point when he announced his candidacy last week. Let's listen.

JON HUNTSMAN: We will conduct this campaign on the high road. I don't think you need to run down someone's reputation in order to run for the office of president. And I respect the President of the United States. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who's the better American?

MATTHEWS: Well, there he went to the Statue of Liberty, Ron, to do that. I felt a little tear come to my eye. Maybe I'm the great communicator at least once a week in my life. But he did seem to be responding to the tag that I put on those guys.

RON REAGAN: Yes, indeed, and he could do nothing else. I mean, after all, Jon Huntsman worked for Barack Obama. He can't then come out and say "I think he was un-American but I was working for him anyway." I mean, really. But, listen, I understand what you're saying. You're absolutely right. Smart Republican candidates realize there is absolutely nothing for them to continue in the, let me just say it, the race baiting, among other things that is going on with Barack Obama. But that race baiting is going to continue on right wing radio and other venues.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You mean the chorus? The chorus. The backup group.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org