On the October 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan asserted that "[i]t is quite apparent" Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "is not a street fighter, and he doesn't have the eye of the tiger." Buchanan further said that Obama is "up there, sort of holding forth," adding, "I mean, he's not what you would expect from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago. He's something, as [NBC News political director] Chuck [Todd] says, you'd expect in a Harvard seminar for undergraduates or something like that." Host Chris Matthews responded, "Well, he's also an Ivy leaguer. ... He may have grown up in the ... to some extent, in the urban neighborhoods, but he certainly is a guy ... who's worked in those neighborhoods in terms of tough areas, but ... he is a refined personality, clearly." Buchanan replied: "Well, that's not a fighter."
Earlier on Hardball, Todd had said of Obama, "He does strike me as a professor," adding, "He's like a guy at Harvard or Yale, who, after a 90-minute lecture to a bunch of students, will have all the students waiting for an autograph or wanting to spend more time with the professor."
Near the end of the segment, Buchanan said, "Here's what [Obama] ought to say: 'Hillary Clinton is a Bush-Cheney senator when it comes down to the real ... nut-cutting, as Richard Nixon ... used to say, and she has voted again and again and again there. And that's where she will go and that's where she is. And ... our party is here. We're getting out of this war and we're not getting into that one.' " Matthews responded, "I agree with you. Well said. 'Nut-cutting' will be the phrase for the ... ages tonight."
From the October 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: You know, I'm pushing for a more -- a stronger approach by Obama, because I think the country wants a real debate over Iraq and the war coming in Iran. But on paper, for some reason, Obama is not bad along those lines, Chuck. He accused Hillary Clinton in The New York Times this weekend of straddling between the Republicans and the Democrats. That's a -- probably not such a wonderful -- a felicitous way of saying she's going -- she's offering herself as somewhere vaguely in the middle.
He's accused her of backing blank checks for war, which I think is fair enough. He's calling her -- saying, basically, she sounds like a -- votes like a Republican. He's saying the right things in a print interview, but when the guy gets on a stage, he doesn't do it for some -- what is holding him back?
TODD: Well, I think one has been format. I mean, I don't think he's comfortable doing it on camera. That isn't who he is. I mean, people keep describing it as professorial. He does strike me as a professor. He's like a guy at Harvard or Yale, who, after a 90-minute lecture to a bunch of students, will have all the students waiting for an autograph or wanting to spend more time with the professor. But if you walked in and just heard him for 60 seconds, you'd wonder, "What was he was talking about?" He's all over the place. He's all over the map.
And I think that, you know, we're hearing that he is spending more time preparing for this debate; that he's trying to be more television-ready. I mean, it may not be fair, but that may be the thing holding him back more, is that he is not a TV-ready debater -- and if you're not, you're going to have a hard time making progress. She speaks in perfect 60-second answers. They're tremendous.
MATTHEWS: The people that really want it are willing to do it: Dick Nixon, in the worst way perhaps. Ronald Reagan is one to take the fight right to Jimmy Carter, my old boss, right to his face, stood head-to-head and took him on. If you want to be president, don't you have to take on the champ? Why doesn't he -- I just keep getting back to this. What is he wasting people's time with?
BUCHANAN: This is not a street fighter, and he doesn't have the eye of the tiger. It is quite apparent. I think Chuck is exactly right. He's up there, sort of holding forth. I mean, he's not what you would expect from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago. He's something, as Chuck says, you'd expect in a Harvard seminar for undergraduates or something like that.
BUCHANAN: He's an Ivy Leaguer.
BUCHANAN: He's more Ivy --
BUCHANAN: He's more Ivy --
BUCHANAN: Yeah, but he is more Ivy League --
BUCHANAN: Well, that's not a fighter. And he's -- and, look, if you're not a fighter, maybe you're better off not trying to play that role if you're not any good at it. Now, he's got -- Chris, he's got one thing going for him. He has a fighting chance to win Iowa.
BUCHANAN: That opens it up.
MATTHEWS: That opens up the notion that he can win the nomination by being a National Public Radio liberal -- a person who doesn't criticize the other side, who's very reflective, very intellectual -- but that's not the road to victory. You know that.
BUCHANAN: The road to victory is not to go after Hillary so much; it's to take a stand on the other side of the road --
BUCHANAN: -- and stand up there and define it.
The fact is he has to offer the choice to the voters: Do you want the current rut, a smarter version of Bush --
BUCHANAN: -- "nut-cutting, as Richard Nixon" --
BUCHANAN: -- "used to say, and she has voted again and again and again there. And that's where she will go and that's where she is. And we -- our party is here. We're getting out of this war and we're not getting into that one."
MATTHEWS: I agree with you. Well said. "Nut-cutting" will be the phrase for the [inaudible] ages tonight.
TODD: Yeah, there it is.