According to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, if Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford loses Tuesday, you can blame it on white conservatives. On Sunday morning, as he appeared in a segment hosted by Alex Witt, Matthews chided whites for an unwillingness to vote for black politicians, contending that "blacks vote for whites," but "whites don't vote for blacks." Matthews added that in states with large black populations, fear leads whites to become conservative Republicans. Matthews: "The larger the black population, where the whites are afraid historically, and in Deep South states, they tend to become very conservative Republican out of fear, whatever, of an overwhelming, or a large number of African-Americans because of the kind of culture." Ignored by Matthews was the willingness of white conservatives to support black statewide candidates like Maryland's Michael Steele, Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell, and Pennsylvania's Lynn Swann, in this year's elections, while white liberals will be supporting white Democratic candidates instead, demonstrating that party affiliation is the deciding factor in whether white conservatives vote for a black candidate. Notably, in Maryland's Senate primary, Democratic voters rejected black Democratic candidate Kweisi Mfume, a former Congressman, in favor of white candidate and Congressman Benjamin Cardin during their party's primary, while the Republican nominee, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, is black. (Transcript follows)
Below is a transcript of Matthews' comments, which aired on MSNBC about 9:16 a.m. on Sunday November 5:
Chris Matthews: "I think it's always been a Hail Mary pass, to use a football term, for Harold Ford Jr. I think it's just a tough one, and we all know the history of our country electing white people. Blacks vote for whites. Whites don't vote for blacks. It's just been a problem. It's just a horrible problem. I thought he was really courageous in making this run. I never thought it was really that winnable. He's from Memphis. He's had a history of family illegalities. Talk about the old man being involved in affecting your election. An uncle in trouble. I think he had to overcome an awful lot. But most importantly, he's an African-American guy running in the United States. That's just a challenge. I mean, Deval Patrick up in Massachusetts will be elected governor, but Massachusetts has an interesting, they don't have that large African-American population like you have in states like Tennessee. They don't therefore have those frictions. I mean, the larger the black population, where the whites are afraid historically, and in Deep South states, they tend to become very conservative Republican out of fear, whatever, of an overwhelming, or a large number of African-Americans because of the kind of culture. Only when we get to these situations where they think they can do it without fear, like Deval Patrick, do they operate this way. I say this as almost like a sermon, but white people aren't voting for black people in this country."
Alex Witt: "Do you think the white Playboy ad, for lack of a better characterization of that, do you think that hurt him?"
Matthews: "Well, that was a racist ad, and it ripped the scab off the old racial animosities in this country and fears. You see a very attractive -- sexy, if you will -- white woman, a blonde, a floozy, saying that you don't have to come for me, I'm coming for you. And after the commercial, she pops back in after the Republicans have said we agree with the content of this ad, she pops in around the corner and says, 'I'll call you later, Howard.' In other words, she's throwing herself at a black guy. You're talking about opening up all the old fears and angers, that was the most racist ad I think I've ever seen. And anybody that doesn't see it is either not born in America or refuses to accept the reality."