On the January 29 edition of Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci (R), who has endorsed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) for president, how Giuliani could “go into a debate with [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] and land a punch against a woman.” Matthews continued: “Isn't that going to be tricky for somebody like Rudy, who knows how to land a punch, to go up ... against a woman?” Matthews later told Cellucci, “I love being in the corner -- as a corner man with you."
Matthews also told Cellucci that Giuliani is “tough. He's a bit of an FSOB. I think we need one as president. He doesn't own a ranch. That's what I like about him. He's not going to be on the ranch when something big hits. When something bad hits, he'll be on the street corner talking to us instead of hiding on the ranch.” Matthews has previously gushed about Giuliani, as Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, here, and here). For example, Media Matters noted Matthews' prediction on the July 18, 2006, edition of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that “the next president of the United States will be Rudy Giuliani.” Matthews added: “I think that they [the American people] want -- we want a guy who'll be tougher than the president we have now, quicker to tell us what's going on. He won't have a ranch. I know. I am tired of presidents with ranches.”
On Hardball, Matthews also promoted a ticket with Giuliani as presidential candidate and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) as his running mate: “You know, I know who your running mate will be if you get that far [the general election]. Haley Barbour, perfect balance. You need a guy who's pro-life, Deep South, good accent, good old boy. All the things Rudy isn't, but still a great executive like Rudy. What a great ticket that would be. Just think of it ... Giuliani-Barbour.” On the November 15, 2006, edition of Hardball, Matthews predicted that Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) “running mate will be Haley Barbour.”
Later on the January 29 edition of Hardball, Matthews spoke with Miss America Organization chairman Sam Haskell. Matthews served as a judge in the 2007 Miss America competition, which took place on January 29. Matthews claimed that Giuliani has “done something” but "[i]t's hard to argue that Hillary's done something ... except put up with [former President Bill Clinton], which she so wonderfully mentioned this weekend as her great selling point." Matthews was suggesting that Sen. Clinton had referred to former President Clinton when she quipped: “And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?” As Newsday noted, Sen. Clinton has denied that the statement was about former President Clinton.
Additionally, Matthews told Haskell of Giuliani: “I will build him up, because I think the media underestimates his clout.”
As Media Matters noted, Matthews made a New Year's “journalist resolution” on the December 31 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthew Show: “Despite everything I say, seeing the arguments for people like Giuliani, because the conventional wisdom opposes that kind of argument, I am going to keep completely open-minded, from now to the next general election for president, about who would be our next best president.”
From the January 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: You know what I like about Rudy Giuliani? He's tough. He's a bit of an FSOB. I think we need one as president. He doesn't own a ranch. That's what I like about him. He's not going to be on the ranch when something big hits. When something bad hits, he'll be on the street corner talking to us instead of hiding on the ranch. Don't you agree, Governor? He won't be on his ranch.
CELLUCCI: I absolutely -- I absolutely agree. That's what we saw on September 11th. He reassured the people of his city. He led them through such a -- some very difficult and challenging days. It's extraordinary leadership, and these times require that kind of leadership.
MATTHEWS: What would he have done if Hurricane Katrina had hit Louisiana, New Orleans especially, on his watch? What would he have done afterwards?
CELLUCCI: Well, I think he would have been there within hours. And I think he would have made sure that all the federal people who had responsibility to deal with that were there as well. I think we can pretty much be assured of that.
MATTHEWS: You mean he wouldn't have been watching on a DVD a week later, catching up with the news he had missed all week while he was on his ranch?
MATTHEWS: How can he go into a debate with Hillary Clinton and land a punch against a woman? Isn't that going to be tricky for somebody like Rudy, who knows how to land a punch, to go up a woman --
CELLUCCI: Well, you know, I think you --
MATTHEWS: -- up against a woman?
CELLUCCI: I ran against Marjorie Clapprood for lieutenant governor back in 1990. I had several debates with her. I didn't approach her any differently. I don't think people expect that you approach a woman candidate any differently than a man. I think you stick to your guns, you make your points, and you challenge the person that you are in the debate with. I think Rudy will be an effective debater against Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: You know where I think you guys could hit and strike hard? You can carry Pennsylvania against Hillary. You know, a lot of Catholics, a lot of conservative cultural people are going to still going to like Rudy in that part of the country. The gun owners are going to like him even though he's pro-gun control. Ohio, you'll do great. In Michigan, you'll do great. I don't know how you're going to do holding the Bible Belt. That's going to be tricky. Then again, where else are they going to go, right?
CELLUCCI: Well, clearly -- clearly, Rudy is going to do well in the Midwest. You're right, where else are they going to go in the South? And when you look at Florida, Texas, California, you've still got Republican governors in those states. They've got an awful lot of electoral votes.
You know, the challenge for Rudy is to win those primaries so he builds up the delegates so that he can win that nomination. I think he's going to be a very strong general-election candidate. There's no doubt about that.
MATTHEWS: You know, I know who your running mate will be if you get that far. Haley Barbour, perfect balance. You need a guy who's pro-life, Deep South, good accent, good old boy. All the things Rudy isn't, but still a great executive like Rudy. What a great ticket that would be. Just think of it --
CELLUCCI: I love it. Haley Barbour, that's --
MATTHEWS: Giuliani-Barbour. What a ticket.
CELLUCCI: That's a great idea, Chris. I'm going to pass that one on.
MATTHEWS: I love being in the corner -- as a corner man with you, Governor. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think he's [Giuliani] got two things going for him. Let me run them by. One, he's done something.
MATTHEWS: It's hard to argue that Hillary's done something. It's hard to find that thing she's done, except put up with Bill, which she so wonderfully mentioned this weekend as her great selling point.
And the other thing he's done is he can give a speech. You know, for a while there, I thought in America white guys not only couldn't jump, they couldn't speak -- that the best speakers in the country were all African-Americans. And now, I think this guy can talk.
HASKELL: He can talk.
MATTHEWS: This president can't talk.
HASKELL: Well, he definitely -- Giuliani can definitely speak. And I think that -- that John F. Kennedy proved that an election can be won on communicative skills. And Giuliani has those same skills, and I think he'll put them to good use.
MATTHEWS: He proved it at your convention. Were you in the hall? Were you up there covering it --
HASKELL: I was not.
MATTHEWS: -- as [former Sen.] Zell Miller [D-GA] remembers well. We were up there --
HASKELL: I was watching in my living room.
MATTHEWS: Well, he gave a stunning speech.
HASKELL: Yes, he did.
MATTHEWS: And he has the ability, Rudy -- and I will -- I will build him up, because I think the media underestimates his clout. He does this thing in public where you can actually stop talking, pause, and have the audience dying to hear your next word.