Appearing on the December 3 edition of NBC's Today to discuss presidential politics, MSNBC host Chris Matthews said of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL): "[H]e's so fresh-faced, so brand-new, almost Third World in his sort of presentation. He doesn't click as a usual politician."
From the December 3 edition of NBC's Today:
VIERA: Chris Matthews is the host of both MSNBC's Hardball and The Chris Matthews Show, as well as the author of Life's a Campaign. Chris, good morning to you.
MATTHEWS: Good morning, Meredith.
VIERA: And the big question this morning: What is going on? Starting with the Democrats, Obama now ahead of Clinton in the Iowa polls. Is it a matter of fluctuation in polls, normal fluctuation, or has the momentum really shifted?
MATTHEWS: Well, it's a clear trend, Obama, people want change and it's helping him. You never know in politics where you stand with the public 'til you make a mistake. And Hillary Clinton had a bad night six weeks ago in Philadelphia, as [NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent] Andrea [Mitchell] said in that report, and she's still reeling from it, and I think Obama's taking advantage of that. He's the change agent. And the Clinton campaign has still got a problem, something to do with veracity. It's not clear how they're going to deal with it.
VIERA: But why are women -- but why are women leaving her?
MATTHEWS: Well, the key thing is: Who would have believed a few months ago that three out of four women in Iowa, Democratic women, would not be committed to Hillary right now. She was supposed to have an advantage among women. Now, she doesn't have that advantage. I think women want change. I think they really want it, and they need it, especially women with need. And Hillary, unfortunately for her, represents the past, the cycle of the Clinton/Bush back-and-forth every couple of years, and it doesn't seem like a fresh start. Obama is the fresh start candidate.
VIERA: And what about Oprah [Winfrey] endorsing Obama? What kind of an impact do you think that is really having or will have?
MATTHEWS: It depends how she plays it. If she simply comes along and says, "I'm from Chicago. I'm African-American. I like this guy, he's my favorite son," it won't work. She's -- her great strength, if anybody watches the show -- and I think everybody does in Iowa; it's the number one show in Iowa -- she's instructive. She's empowering. Every time you watch an Oprah broadcast, at the end of it, you know more than you started and you feel stronger. That's her strength.
If she can bring those two qualities, those two abilities, to the campaign trail, the 8th and 9th this coming weekend, she can really bring up the vote, not just among women, but everybody. She has to be herself, though. She can't just be a politician.
VIERA: Biggest story, probably, Chris, is on the Republican side, Mike Huckabee now surging ahead of Mitt Romney in Iowa. He's only spent $300,000 compared to Romney spending $7 million. How has he pulled this off?
MATTHEWS: He's more likable.
VIERA: That simple?
MATTHEWS: It's as simple as that. People meet this guy, Huckabee, and they like him. They meet Romney, they meet a guy who looks like a Ken doll, who's very smart, very smooth, but too smooth. I don't think this is the year of the politician, to be honest about it. I look at Hillary, she's a politician. I look at Romney, he's a politician. I look at Huckabee, I'm not sure. He may be the best kind of politician -- he doesn't look like one.
And the other guy, you know, Obama, he's so fresh-faced, so brand-new, almost Third World in his sort of presentation. He doesn't click as a usual politician.
VIERA: OK, so the year of the non-politician.
MATTHEWS: I think the politicians are losing out this year. It's not a good year. They've not had a good -- well, they haven't had a good decade, let's be honest about it. People want a change.
VIERA: All right. Chris Matthews, thanks very much.