The Chris Matthews appearance on Jay Leno wasn’t all about the Shi’ite Republican fanatics. Matthews also went into a typical swoon for his favorite presidential candidate, Barack Obama. "If you're actually in the room when he gives one of his speeches, and you don’t cry, you’re not an American." Matthews could not help slipping into a sales job for Barack and his wife Michelle, and he knew it: "they're cool people. They are really cool. They are Jack and Jackie Kennedy when you see them together. They are cool. And they’re great-looking, and they’re cool and they’re young, and they're -- everything seems to be great. I know I'm selling them now. I'm not supposed to sell, okay?...But the fact is, I wouldn't be an honest reporter if I didn't tell you what the spiritual experience is like of being in a Barack Obama rally."
Matthews also tried out a populist speech about how the country needs change, how it needs a brand-new president that changes the country overnight, and extracts us from Iraq, and enacts "universal" (government-run) health care, and it’s the press’s job to make that happen:
I feel this country's in a rut, in a bad rut. We're stuck in a war that's going on four or five years and never seems to have an ending to it. It's not about winning or losing, it's about getting home. Ever. We look like we’re on a war to – [ Cheers and applause ] someday coming home. We know as long as we stay over there, they're gonna hate us more. We know that. It makes sense. If they were here we'd hate them more. It looks like we’re always gonna go to war with Iran eventually, it looks like. It's just a matter of time. We're stuck on illegal immigration. Why don't we pass a law we believe in enforcing, and get it done with. Nobody wants to get it done with. The same with health care. Why should a guy or woman that's working 40 or 50 hours a a week, I'm not talking about somebody who’s not working, I’m talking about a guy or woman who's working hard not have health insurance of some kind?
We ought to solve these problems. And yet every year, they dicker around. And you know -- [Cheers and applause ] I don't believe in this Kumbaya politics, where everybody loves each other. No, I don't want you to get along. I want you to get something done. And I'd rather you fought about it, and then got something done than liked each other. And the press, by the way -- our job should be jab these guys, kick ’em in the butt over and over and over again, and say ‘get the job done.’ And I think that's our job. [ Cheers and applause ]
From there, Leno turned the topic to Obama:
LENO: Well, you know what's interesting? I'm somewhat of a cynical person. And you kind of meet all these people. But I have to say, on the night of the iowa caucus, I'm sitting there with the remote in my hand, you know. And I come to MSNBC and I was holding the remote and I hear Barack Obama starting to give his acceptance speech and go -- and, you know, I put the remote down, and I actually felt something. When he talked about his mother's from Kansas, and the father in Kenya. It's an American story.
MATTHEWS, putting his hand to his chest: I love it. I love it.
LENO: And you know --–
MATTHEWS, hand still on chest: And you’re talking to me.
LENO: – and it moved me. I don't know whether whether I'm being naive, but –
MATTHEWS: Well, we're white American guys. We want this fight over with. We're tired of is hatred and this back and forth thing that's been going on for 300 years, this back and forth racial thing. I said something nice about Hillary Clinton, personally. Let me tell you something about Barack Obama.
If you're actually in the room when he gives one of his speeches, and you don’t cry, you’re not an American. It's unbelievable. I've heard him. He does the Jack Kennedy humor. He says things like, "hey, they've been going through my kindergarten papers." You know? Or he has these wonderful -- you know, when they do these genealogy things, you want to be connected to somebody cool. And because he's mixed race, he says, "you're hoping it's somebody like Lincoln or [ahem, baseball star] Willie Mays." Who else can say that? Lincoln – or Willie Mays? End up being related to (makes a face) Dick Cheney!" [Laughter.]
I mean, who else could do that? He can walk across that racial line back and forth, and make everybody feel good. I don’t know what -- he's -- I am so -- I was watching him. I know we're supposed to be dispassionate. But I can describe it. I don't think he’s a great debater. I don't think he's maybe a a great executive. He said it the other night. "I'm not a great executive. I can’t keep my papers straight."
But when you're in the room with the guy, you feel great about this country. You feel like we can make it better. We can transit to something bigger and better. And the race thing, I know it's always going to be around us, at least it seems like it. But this guy seems like he could -- since he's come from a white family and a black family. And he's married to a black woman, and they're cool people. They are really cool. They are Jack and Jackie Kennedy when you see them together. They are cool. And they’re great-looking, and they’re cool and they’re young, and they're -- everything seems to be great. I know I'm selling them now. I'm not supposed to sell, okay?
LENO: Right, I got you.
MATTHEWS: But I'm telling you it's just something. And nobody -- the thing is he may not win this thing because everybody in America is not going to be in a room with him somewhere. And it doesn’t [work] – it worked with you on TV. But I'll tell you, when you're in the room, it's just like one of the things like Hillary Clinton. If you’ve been in a room with her, you understand what a likable person she is. If you're in with Obama, you feel the spirit. Moving. Now I’m, selling too much.
After a minute of Leno talking up potential vice presidential nominees (they discussed Huckabee and Richardson), Matthews picked up where he left off: "But the fact is, I wouldn't be an honest reporter if I didn't tell you what the spiritual experience is like of being in a Barack Obama rally. It’s an honest statement."
Matthews ended by mocking Mitt Romney for running against Washington and lobbyists, saying that was hypocritical because his father George Romney was a lobbyist for auto companies.