Former Newsweek senior editor Howard Fineman on Tuesday slammed Rick Santorum as regressive, sneering, "Well, I think Rick Santorum is posing a more fundamental challenge to the modern world."
Fineman made his mocking comment while talking to Hardball's Chris Matthews. The liberal anchor wondered who liberals should "fear" more, "Romney's elitist attitude towards the economy, where he looks at everything from the top, economically? Or Santorum's, sort of, gut sense that his religion should trump the Constitution if necessary?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Fineman did concede that Santorum "could" win the presidency, adding, "If you get in the finals, if you get in the big game, you can win. I wouldn't say no." Fellow guest Joe Klein disagreed, saying "probably not" to the possibility.
MSNBC has repeatedly promoted anti-Santorum guests and journalists. On Monday, Bill Maher appeared to suggest Rick Santorum is saying, "Yes, I will take my marching orders from the Pope!" On Tuesday, New York Times columnist Charles Blow slammed, "Rick Santorum scares the bejesus out of people."
A transcript of the February 28 segment, which aired at 5:12pm EST, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: My question to those who are on the other side. Howard, speak for them. Those in the center and the left, the progressives out there. What should they fear more? Romney's elitist attitude towards the economy, where he looks at everything from the top, economically? Or Santorum's, sort of, gut sense that his religion should trump the Constitution if necessary?
HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, I think Rick Santorum is posing a more fundamental challenge to the modern world. So- And on the assumption that it's going to probably be a tight race regardless, and I think it will because of polls showing that there's still a lot of unhappiness with President Obama's leadership, especially on the economy. I would say be careful what you wish for if you're wishing for Rick Santorum, because the campaign, I think, would be one of surpassing ugliness, probably on both sides, and something even more divisive than anything we're already prepared to expect in this coming election.
MATTHEWS: Could he win the presidency, Howard?
FINEMAN: Yeah, he could win the presidency. If you get in the finals, if you get in the big game, you can win. I wouldn't say no. I wouldn't say no, because as we all l know, we were talking about the area of, you know, ten states, you're talking about ten battleground states, you could say it's unlikely, but I don't think you can say it's impossible by any means. Of course, you never say that in politics.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree?
JOE KLEIN: Probably not, but he has a shot, as you said. The thing about Romney's campaign that's so crazy is that if you run on electibility, which is a stupid thing to run on in the first place, you have to prove that you can be- that you're electable to the people in the middle who are going to put you over the top. And he has done none of that in this campaign, going back to the very first thing we started with.