Matthews said, "It's not my job to sell anybody" -- then hailed Giuliani as "a tough, kick-butt policeman"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On the November 6 edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews asserted, "I'm not going to sell Rudy [Giuliani]. It's not my job to sell anybody." But Matthews declared Giuliani "the person with the best shot to win the Republican nomination," and he and his panelists called Giuilani a "a gunslinger," "a straight-talker," "a quick draw," "a tough, kick-butt policeman," and "this tough, kick-butt cop from New York." Matthews has a history of gushing over Giuliani.

On the November 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball -- during which host Chris Matthews declared former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "the person with the best shot to win the Republican [presidential] nomination" -- Matthews asserted, "I'm not going to sell Rudy. It is not my job to sell anybody," while he and his panel of guests, which included Politico's Mike Allen and the New York Post's Charles Hurt, called Giuliani a "a gunslinger," "a straight-talker," "a quick draw," "a tough, kick-butt policeman," and "this tough, kick-butt cop from New York." Matthews has repeatedly gushed over Giuliani, as Media Matters for America has documented.

Additionally, introducing a report by MSNBC correspondent David Shuster, Matthews referred to Giuliani as "the man they call 'America's Mayor.' " During that report, Shuster said that "Giuliani was called America's mayor" in the wake of 9-11. Shuster also compared Giuliani's performance after the attacks to "Walter Cronkite getting us through the Kennedy assassination."

During the segment, Allen said, "We thought, because of his views, he's going to be a non-starter with social conservatives and the South. Turns out they like this gunslinging, straight-shooting swagger that he comes across. He'll answer a question. He'll say, 'No way, no how.' People like that." Hurt asserted, "And one important point going back to the thing about the conservative -- the issue -- the values voters." As Media Matters has documented, media figures often link "values" and religious faith with conservatives or those opposing abortion rights.

Hurt continued, "You know, because he is such a gunslinger, and because he's such a straight-talker, people believe him, I think. A lot of people believe him when he says --" Matthews interrupted, "Because he's so quick-draw." Hurt continued, "Yeah, when he says, 'I'm going to pick judges like Justice [Samuel] Alito and [Chief Justice John] Roberts,' who will -- who are the main -- that's the main issue for those guys." Matthews said, speaking of those conservatives, "[T]heir main issue, as we watch this campaign unfold in the coming months, is the more it looks like Hillary is the front-runner, the more he can make a case: 'OK, you might like a Christian conservative. You might like a Bible Belt Baptist. There ain't one that's going to win this thing, but I can win it and I can beat her.' "

Later, Matthews asserted, "You know why I've been saying this guy looks good for a long time -- looks like a potential winner? Because I've been talking to a lot of people in the South -- guys that go to lunches in the South, not necessarily church-y people, just secular Republicans -- they hear about lower taxes, law and order, they like him." He added, "They can't spell his name down there, some people, but they love the idea he is a tough, kick-butt policeman, basically, in New York, a prosecutor." On the March 1 edition of Hardball, Matthews similarly asserted that Southerners "can't spell his name necessarily, but they know Rudy was a hero."

Later still, Matthews said, "Rudy is this tough, kick-butt cop from New York. You know he's not a nice guy. You know he can be an SOB, but maybe that's what you want on the subway at 3 o'clock in the morning." He continued, "Maybe that's what people feel like in their heads right now. It is 3 o'clock in the morning, and we want a tough guy on that subway with us, right?" Allen agreed, "Right."

As he did on the November 6 broadcast of Hardball, Matthews has repeatedly invoked the imagery of a New York City police officer, New York City late at night, and the New York City subway system while praising Giuliani:

  • On the March 1 edition of Hardball, Matthews also praised Giuliani as "the one tough cop who was standing on the beat when we got hit last time and stood up and took it."
  • On the May 2 edition of Hardball, Matthews asked Mike DuHaime, campaign manager for Giuliani: "Who would win a street fight ... Rudy Giuliani or [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, who would win that fight?" Matthews said that the fight would take place "over in Queens somewhere ... a dark night, it's about 2 in the morning. Two guys are out behind the building, right?" DuHaime responded, "I am putting my money on Rudy on that one." Matthews added, "If [Giuliani] wins that notion, he is the next president."
  • On the March 5 edition of NBC's Today, Matthews listed among Giuliani's strengths that he "cleaned up the streets of New York so you could walk in the subways without smelling urine" and "made the city safe and clean and smell better." As Media Matters documented, Matthews had been touting Giuliani's improvement of olfactory conditions in New York's subways since 1999.

From the November 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Tonight, the person with the best shot to win the Republican nomination -- I say it's Rudy Giuliani. Once again, it's based on national and key state polling, international betting odds, and perhaps the most important point, his best and most distinguishing strengths. On Thursday, we'll tell you who we believe to be his strongest challengers. But first, Hardball's David Shuster with this quick look at the man they call "America's Mayor."

[...]

[begin video clip]

SHUSTER: He was Walter Cronkite getting us through the Kennedy assassination. Giuliani made frequent media appearances and mirrored the emotions of most Americans: shock, sadness, anger, and resolution.

GIULIANI: The city of New York and the United States of America is much stronger than any group of barbaric terrorists.

SHUSTER: Giuliani was called "America's Mayor," and he was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year." To this day, his 9-11 association takes center stage. Still, for some conservatives, there are problems: Giuliani's on his third wife; his second found out about the divorce from a news conference. Giuliani supports abortion rights, gay rights, and gun control.

[end video clip]

[...]

MATTHEWS: He's like the guy that used to -- the guys who used to play the Globetrotters, you know. His job is to make it interesting. Ron Paul keeps setting up Rudy for that basket. He just puts it in every time.

ALLEN: He does. And that response by Giuliani shows you why he's defied conventional wisdom at every turn. We thought, because of his views, he's going to be a non-starter with social conservatives and the South. Turns out, they like this gunslinging, straight-shooting swagger that he comes across. He'll answer a question.

MATTHEWS: Mike, and also --

ALLEN: He'll say, "No way, no how." People like that.

MATTHEWS: You write for the Post in New York. You know, I'm not going to sell Rudy. It's not my job to sell anybody.

ALLEN: Right.

MATTHEWS: But, you know, when I was up there -- when his first term when he was OK -- before he got a little bit too far out with the cops -- the city was safer. It felt better to be up there. You hang around Soho, you go to the movies with your kids, you go to a bookstore late at night. It was safer. Then he went too far with the cops, I think. But what --

HURT: You talk to Democrats in New York and they say that, you know, they may not like him now, and they, you know, hated him for lot of the time that he was mayor, but they will always -- when you say, "Well, what about what he did in New York?" They immediately come back down to --

MATTHEWS: Does the credit go to him or to [William] Bratton, the first [police] commissioner? Who should get the credit, or both of them?

HURT: I think it's debatable. Obviously, Giuliani thinks that it's probably -- ought to be shared considering he sort of tried to patch things up with him. But, clearly, Giuliani was the leader of all of that.

And one important point going back to the thing about the conservative -- the issue -- the values voters.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

HURT: You know, because he is such a gunslinger, and because he's such a straight-talker, people believe him, I think. A lot of people believe him when he says --

MATTHEWS: Because he's so quick-draw.

HURT: Yeah, when he says, "I'm going to pick judges like Justice Alito and Roberts," who will -- who are the main -- that's the main issue for those guys.

MATTHEWS: And I think his main -- their main issue, as we watch this campaign unfold in the coming months, is the more it looks like Hillary is the front-runner, the more he can make a case: "OK, you might like a Christian conservative. You might like a Bible Belt Baptist. There ain't one that's going to win this thing, but I can win it and I can beat her," by the way, which is the new designation for Hillary. It is going to be "her," if not " 'er," as they say in Philly -- 'er.

Here's Rudy Giuliani imitating -- I've never seen mockery so early in a campaign, imitating Senator Clinton of New York on the campaign trail.

[...]

MATTHEWS: You know why I've been saying this guy looks good for a long time -- looks like a potential winner? Because I've been talking to a lot of people in the South -- guys that go to lunches in the South, not necessarily church-y people, just secular Republicans -- they hear about lower taxes, law and order, they like him. They can't spell his name down there, some people, but they love the idea he's a tough, kick-butt policeman, basically, in New York, a prosecutor, a guy who puts bad guys like [investment executive Michael] Milken away.

Let's take a look at a problem area for him. This is the police commissioner he recommended for Homeland secretary. This is a problem: Bernie Kerik. I want you, Charlie, to respond to this from the New York Post, here.

[...]

MATTHEWS: That's what -- I agree. I believe that Hillary last night, when I picked her to be the most probable Democratic nominee, and Rudy -- they are so well-known.

ALLEN: They're rock stars.

MATTHEWS: They have such iconic -- they're almost like statues in your head. You know Hillary Clinton, you either like her or don't like her, but you made up your mind a long time ago. Rudy is this tough, kick-butt cop from New York. You know he's not a nice guy. You know he can be an SOB, but maybe that's what you want on the subway at 3 o'clock in the morning.

Maybe that's what people feel like in their heads right now. It is 3 o'clock in the morning, and we want a tough guy on that subway with us, right?

ALLEN: Right.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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