Matthews did not challenge guest's assertion that Clinton will use National Journal rating against Obama -- but she said she will not

››› ››› ANNE SMITH

MSNBC host Chris Matthews did not challenge guest Ken Blackwell's assertion that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would "use the National Journal's record analysis" that ranked Sen. Barack Obama as the "most liberal senator." In fact, Clinton explicitly rejected the notion that she would use the National Journal ranking against Obama.

On the February 14* edition of MSNBC's Hardball, guest Ken Blackwell, former secretary of state in Ohio, asserted, referring to Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Well, I think what she's going to do is she's going to use the National Journal's record analysis saying that he's to the left of the socialists in Congress and say that, you know, he's -- he really doesn't represent those who -- those working families that make under 50 percent -- I mean $50,000. And she's going to play that card." He continued, "It's going to be classic class warfare."

In fact, Clinton explicitly rejected the notion that she would use the National Journal ranking against Obama. In a February 11 interview, originally broadcast on WJLA-TV and reprinted on Politico.com, WJLA-TV anchor Leon Harris asked Clinton, "Now, as you well know, according to National Journal, your opponent, Senator Obama, was ranked as having the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Is he too liberal?" Clinton replied, "You know, Leon, the Republicans will probably try to make that case, but I'm not going to." She continued, "I mean, you know, I'm not going to characterize my opponent in that way, because that's a Republican talking point. That's what they always try to do."

Host Chris Matthews did not challenge Blackwell's assertion.

As Media Matters for America has noted, among the criteria that earned Obama the title "most liberal senator in 2007" were his votes to implement the bipartisan 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, permit federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage. Further, as Media Matters has noted, National Journal has admitted that its 2003 study declaring Sen. John Kerry [D-MA] the "most liberal" senator was flawed in its methodology.

From the February 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Let's go to the Rust Belt states. I want to go -- we're there with you. We're talking to a Rust Belter right now in Michael Smerconish, an unfelicitous term for states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. I guess it's because we have a lot of small cities in our states where there used to be a lot of steel, there used to be a lot of action economically, and those are on bad times.

Let me go with you. What will be the special appeal of Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in those old ethnic industrial towns like Cleveland, Scranton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie? Why is she benefiting from whatever to have a lead of almost more than double digits over Barack Obama? What do you make of that, Ken Blackwell?

SYBIL WILKES (Tom Joyner Morning Show co-host): Because I --

MATTHEWS: Ken Blackwell first. I'm sorry.

BLACKWELL: Well, I think what she's going to do is she's going to use the National Journal's record analysis saying that he's to the left of the socialists in Congress and say that, you know, he's -- he really doesn't represent those who -- those working families that make under 50 percent -- I mean $50,000. And she's going to play that card. It's going to be classic class warfare. And I think that what -- in Ohio, what they're not anticipating on the Barack Obama side is the growing Latino vote in Ohio. And she's going to work that and try to at least get an 80/20 split.

MATTHEWS: Well, here she is, Senator Clinton today in Ohio.

From Politico.com's transcript of the February 11 interview on WJLA-TV:

HARRIS: Let me ask you a question about the l-word: liberal. Now, as you well know, according to National Journal, your opponent, Senator Obama, was ranked as having the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Is he too liberal?

CLINTON: You know, Leon, the Republicans will probably try to make that case, but I'm not going to. I mean, you know, I'm not going to characterize my opponent in that way, because that's a Republican talking point. That's what they always try to do.

You know, I believe that you have to defend the positions you take. I'm very comfortable defending my positions; he will have to defend his positions.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews, Ken Blackwell
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.