Chris Matthews is not a liberal. Andrea Mitchell has told us so. Yet there are times when our fervent belief in that tenet is strained. Such as on this afternoon's "Hardball," when the only two moments from last night's GOP debate that Matthews singled out for praise were when candidates adopted liberal positions: McCain opposing torture and Rudy sticking up for abortion.
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MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Last night in Columbia, South Carolina, the two GOP frontrunners showed profiles in courage: McCain opposing torture, Giuliani defending abortion rights. . . Here's Senator McCain on the issue of torture last night; I was very taken with these words . . . You know, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show [of course not], I usually bow to the guests. But I am so taken with that . . . I know he scored, Chuck [NBC political director Todd] no points last night but he scored one with me . . . Anybody's who's ever been in uniform is against torture, and it's the pencil necks, if you will, the armchair generals who always like wars a lot except when they or their family members might be in those wars.
Matthews was also filled with praise for Rudy's pro-abortion rights stance.
MATTHEWS: There again, he took Barry Goldwater's libertarian position, and he laced it with Catholicism: we have to do everything we can to reduce the number of abortions, we have to create opportunities for adoption. We have to discourage unwanted pregnancies.
Chris's guest, Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capeheart, seconded Matthew's notion.
CAPEHEART: I think it was a great moment for John McCain, for him to stand on that stage with those other guys, who as you said, it was bloodthirsty . . . I think [McCain and Giuliani's positions] are winners with swing voters, middle-of-the-road people who are a little uncomfortable with what could be viewed as the extremist position coming from the Republican party.
By the way, Matthews's other guests for the show, in addition to Todd, and Capeheart of WaPo, were Dem senators Whitehouse and Feinstein. Oh, and Chris opened the show by referring to AG Alberto Gonzales as a Bush "henchman." Not that Chris is liberal or nuthin'.
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