Fineman, Matthews mind meld: cite Dem satisfaction with candidates as harbinger of future Dem dissatisfaction

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On Hardball, Newsweek's Howard Fineman suggested that a recent poll finding that 77 percent of Democrats and "Democrat Leaners" are satisfied with their party's choice of presidential nominees, while 52 percent of Republicans and "Republican Leaners" said the same, meant that "both parties are going to nominate somebody that they're sort of not wildly enthusiastic about, and then there is going to be seven months ... for everybody to have buyer's remorse big time." Chris Matthews asserted that the supposed dissatisfaction could lead to a "third party" bid.

On the May 7 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while discussing a recent Newsweek poll, which found that 77 percent of registered Democrats and "Democrat Leaners" are "satisfied" with the Democratic presidential candidates in contrast with 52 percent of Republicans and "Republican Leaners" who said they were satisfied with the Republican field, Newsweek magazine chief political correspondent Howard Fineman concluded: "We may have a situation here where both parties are going to nominate somebody that they're sort of not wildly enthusiastic about, and then there is going to be seven months -- February, March, April, May, June, July, August, until after the Olympics in China -- for everybody to have buyer's remorse big time." Fineman did not explain why he thought that -- notwithstanding the 77 percent who said they were satisfied with their choices -- Democrats might be dissatisfied with the eventual nominee.

Host Chris Matthews appeared to agree with Fineman's logic, saying, "[Y]ou know what it says to me, again leaping beyond to where you're really thinking? ... It says third party ... because after two or three months of a continental-wide subway series between Rudy and Hillary, people might be dissatisfied with the options, as we've been saying about the party picks." Matthews suggested that people "may be looking to a Bloomberg or a Hagel or someone else to jump in then as an anti-war or some alternative," referring to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Fineman replied: "I absolutely agree. ... [Y]ou read my mind. That's where I was headed."

Earlier in the program, Matthews had noted the Newsweek poll's finding that more Democrats were satisfied "with the choice of candidates running for [their] party's nomination" than Republicans and asked Fineman if he was surprised by that fact. Fineman replied: "Not really, given what I've seen out on the campaign trail." Fineman went on to assert that "the Republicans are unhappy and they may be unhappy because ... they need a superhero," adding, "They need Spiderman to get out of the situation that they're in." Fineman also claimed that "[t]he problem the Republicans have with that 38 percent unhappy number is really interesting," referring to the poll's finding that 38 percent of Republicans and "Republican Leaners" are dissatisfied with their party's choice of nominees. Neither Matthews nor Fineman pointed out that the poll found that only 14 percent of Democrats and "Democrat Leaners" were dissatisfied with the Democratic field.

From the May 7 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Howard, let's take a look at the question of whether Democrats or the Republicans are satisfied with who's running for 2008. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats are satisfied with their presidential choices, but only 52 percent, just about half, of the Republicans. Does that surprise you?

FINEMAN: Not really, given what I've seen out on the campaign trail. There have been bursts of enthusiasm for some of the candidates occasionally, like Rudy Giuliani sometimes, McCain sometimes, Mitt Romney sometimes, a straw poll here and there, but, basically, the Republicans are unhappy and they may be unhappy because it's -- they need a superhero. They need Spiderman to get out of the situation that they're in.

MATTHEWS: Well, after the Rockettes the other night, I guess that didn't help things any more, when we had 10 of those guys across the stage raising their arms. We should have said raise your legs for different things. But, I guess that -- maybe that wasn't the kind of show -- it helped Romney apparently marginally, and it may have hurt Rudy marginally.

But, what do you think? In the long run, is it too early? Is the long run too long for any one of these debates to have much impact?

FINEMAN: Well, I think they do have impact. And I thought the one you moderated did have impact, because it did help Romney. It was the first time he was on a national stage with the others. He was articulate. He was the CEO type --

MATTHEWS: Are we allowed to use that word "articulate"?

FINEMAN: Yes, I think we are. I think we are, especially when it's a matter of comparison. The problem the Republicans have with that 38 percent unhappy number is really interesting.

The other thing that's going to happen, Chris, Florida is moving up its primary it looks like to January. We may have a situation here where both parties are going to nominate somebody that they're sort of not wildly enthusiastic about, and then there is going to be seven months -- February, March, April, May, June, July, August, until after the Olympics in China -- for everybody to have buyer's remorse big time.

It's really a remarkable situation and a potentially dangerous one.

MATTHEWS: Let me take a leap beyond what you suggest to maybe where you're thinking, which is that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton -- you can't beat Hill -- Bill Clinton's -- the former president's -- popularity in California. You've been out there. You know it. I mean, they -- he's a movie star out there. And Hillary is as well. And you go down to Florida with all of those, you know, retired New Yorkers down there and they automatically have a connection with Hillary -- a lot of them liberals, some of them not -- but a lot of connection with her.

She could roll it up in that -- on those corners of the country, California and Florida -- maybe New York will have a primary early. You're suggesting maybe she rolls it up. Even Rudy Giuliani, with whatever questions about him there are, because the first tests are in those big states, which are polyglots, which are more liberal, if you will, he could win early too.

FINEMAN: I agree. And that's what the numbers in our poll tend to show at this point right now. Both Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani -- despite some surges from Barack Obama on the Democratic side and a lot of interest in some other Republican candidates -- still are in pretty strong shape. And yes, if the schedule for the primaries ends up with California, Florida, and New York that early in the process, right on top of Iowa and New Hampshire, it could be over by January -- by February 1st.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what it says to me, again leaping beyond to where you're really thinking?

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It says third party --

FINEMAN: Yes, it does.

MATTHEWS: -- because after two or three months of a continental-wide subway series between Rudy and Hillary, people might be dissatisfied with the options, as we've been saying about the party picks, and they may be looking to a Bloomberg or a Hagel or someone else to jump in then as an anti-war or some alternative, right?

FINEMAN: I absolutely agree. And that's -- you read my mind. That's where I was headed. I think that's what this is set up for. So, we're going to have a three-act play, at least, maybe a five-act play, and so -- then that's partly because it's starting as early as it did last week.

MATTHEWS: And that guy got 19 percent back in 1992, right?

FINEMAN: Yes, in a matter of fact, there was a time when Ross Perot in 1992 --

MATTHEWS: Imagine a real sane third party candidate, what he could do. Anyway, thank you very much, Howard Fineman. As always, you're thinking beyond your words, sir.

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