On Hardball, Chris Matthews asserted that the question -- "Is he, in fact, the religion he says he is?" -- is part of a "tough trio of attacks" Sen. Hillary Clinton is using against Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race. However, when Clinton was asked recently by NBC News' Andrea Mitchell if she planned to "raise any doubts about ... him [Obama] being a Christian," Clinton responded, "No, not at all."
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During the March 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews claimed that the question -- "Is he, in fact, the religion he says he is?" -- is part of a "tough trio of attacks" Sen. Hillary Clinton is using against Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race. As Media Matters for America has noted, Matthews has repeatedly mischaracterized Clinton's response during a CBS 60 Minutes interview to the question of whether she "believe[d] that Senator Obama is a Muslim." Contrary to Matthews' March 5 claim, her first three words in response to the question were, "Of course not."
From the March 2 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes:
KROFT: You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?
CLINTON: Of course not. I mean, that's -- you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.
KROFT: And you said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim.
CLINTON: Right. Right.
KROFT: You don't believe that he's a Muslim --
CLINTON: No. No. Why would I? There's no --
KROFT: -- or implying, right?
CLINTON: No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.
KROFT: It's just scurrilous --
CLINTON: Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors. I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time.
Moreover, when Clinton was asked recently by NBC News' Andrea Mitchell if she planned to "raise any doubts about ... him [Obama] being a Christian," Clinton responded, "No, not at all. I mean, obviously, I've been the subject of scurrilous rumors for years, and ... it's hard to get them to go away. ... [T]hey just keep coming back. And, you know, I really sympathize with Senator Obama. It is -- it's -- you know, it's disturbing to turn around and see this all the time. And, you know, obviously, I hope that people get beyond it and ignore it."
From the March 5 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MICHELLE BERNARD (Independent Women's Forum president and CEO): I mean, you know, we kept seeing the Hillary trying to figure, you know, which message was going to work. She was going from message to message. And I think that the ads were very important; they worked. People are scared. She's talking national security. She's talking the economy. And by talking free trade and equating free trade with jobs, people in Ohio, for example, I think got the impression that if she is the Democratic nominee and the eventual president, all of these jobs are going to start flowing back into Ohio.
MATTHEWS: Well, it is a tough trio of attacks. One is trust: Is she -- is Barack Obama cutting deals across the border with Canada while he's saying he's going to be tough on NAFTA? Is he, in fact, the religion he says he is? What else? Is he trustworthy at 3 o'clock in the morning? I mean, this is pretty strong stuff that's being thrown at him.