An angry Chris Matthews on Thursday denounced Rick Santorum, smearing the Republican as wanting a "theocracy" to "trump" the Constitution. The MSNBC anchor ranted about birth control after playing a clip of Santorum on "The Bill O'Reilly Show." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Santorum told O'Reilly on Wednesday that states do have the right to ban contraception, but added, "[States] shouldn't do it. I wouldn't vote for it if they did. But that doesn't mean they don't have a right to do it." Talking to Robert Traynham, a former staffer of Santorum, Matthews interpreted, "Let me tell you what he said. He's said 'My religion should dominate, should trump issues of the Constitution.'"
A shrieking Matthews continued, "He was saying, 'Bill O'Reilly, you and I are of the same religion, therefore we should deny a woman's constitutional right to buy birth control or a male to buy birth control.' Isn't that what he said? We just showed the tape."
When Traynham replied, "I don't think he said that," Matthews retorted, "He just did. Okay? He just did. And that's what scares me. He thinks we should have a theocracy."
For the record, here is the O'Reilly Factor clip Matthews played:
BILL O'REILLY: You say that the states should have the rights to ban some contraception. That's right off the bat going to be a big one.
RICK SANTORUM: Well, the states have a right to do a lot of things. That doesn't mean they should do it. Someone asked me if the states have the right to do it. Yes, they have the right to do it. They shouldn't do it. I wouldn't vote for it if they did. But that doesn't mean they don't have a right to do it. As you know, Bill, you're a Catholic. Catholic Church teaches that contraception is something you shouldn't do. So, when I was asked the question about contraception, I said I didn't support it.
Hardly a theocracy.
A transcript of the exchange after the O'Reilly clip, which aired at 5:22pm EST on January 5, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: He takes the moral and theological and puts it right there in confronting the constitutional question of whether a woman or a male has the right to buy birth control devices. Explain that based on your history why he would think like that? Or does he think like that?
ROBERT TRAYNHAM: Well, two things, first and foremost, obviously I'm not a spokesman, so I can't to get too much inside of his head. But knowing Rick the way I know him, I thin what he said there with Bill O'Reilly is, like, "Look, I am for banning partial birth abortion, I am adamantly pro-life and that obviously goes towards the whole entire birth control-"
MATTHEWS: That's not what they were talking about. Robert, you're wrong! They weren't talking about that. They weren't talking about abortion at all. They were talking about contraception. So, stick to the subject. Where does he stand? Does he think you can outlaw contraception under the Constitution. Does he believe that?
TRAYNHAM: Well, Chris, that was my next point, if I could finish, which was transitioning-
MATTHEWS: No, begin, don't finish. Begin. Get to the point here-
TRAYNHAM: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: Is he against birth control legally? Does he talk about it's okay to illegalize it, to ban it? Does he believe that?
TRAYNHAM: I don't know the answer to that question. What I do know is what he just said was, that's really a state's right issue, and if, in fact, I had to vote on that, I would vote no. But he was also saying, to your original question, Chris as a Catholic, my Catholic teaching has told me that the pill is a no-no and thus in the process I believe, meaning Rick Santorum is saying this, that that should not be allowed in the public square. I think that's what he was trying to say.
MATTHEWS: No, he didn't. Let me tell you what he said. He's said 'My religion should dominate, should trump issues of the Constitution.' He was saying, 'Bill O'Reilly, you and I are of the same religion, therefore we should deny a woman's constitutional right to buy birth control or a male to buy birth control.' Isn't that what he said? We just showed the tape.
TRAYNHAM: I don't think he said that.
MATTHEWS: He just did. Okay? He just did. And that's what scares me. He thinks we should have a theocracy.