Two days before he resolved to be “completely open-minded, from now to the next general election for president, about who would be our next best president,” Chris Matthews claimed that if President Bush attacks Iran, Sen. Hillary Clinton would be “saluting the president,” claimed Clinton would have trouble winning “those Democratic states in the Midwest that are pretty culturally conservative ... where everybody, you know, wants to have a gun and a boat,” and asked, "[D]oesn't she look a little bit like a prohibitionist?"
On the December 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while discussing possible Democratic presidential candidates in 2008, host Chris Matthews continued to baselessly assert that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) would fare poorly with Midwestern voters because she is a “modern woman” who resembles a “prohibitionist” or a “suffragette.” He also repeated his prediction that if President Bush attacks Iran, Clinton would be “saluting the president” the next morning, despite her repeated statements that “talk[ing] directly” to the Iranians should be a top priority of U.S. policy.
Matthews claimed that Clinton would not “do so well” in “the center of the country, Ohio, Michigan, those kinds of states where people own guns and boats and have a certain attitude towards modern women.” Matthews then asked Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet, "[D]oesn't [Clinton] look a little bit like a prohibitionist?" and claimed that "[h]er problem will be to win those Democratic states in the Midwest that are pretty culturally conservative ... where everybody, you know, wants to have a gun and a boat."
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, on the September 19 edition of Hardball, Matthews declared, "[G]o see Deer Hunter if you think [Clinton] can get elected president," adding that “Midwest guys” whose “idea of heaven is out hunting with the beer cans and shooting a pheasant or a bear” are “not up to modern women as president.” The Deer Hunter was released in 1978. Matthews has also recently compared Clinton to a "strip teaser," called Clinton "witchy" and "sort of a Madame Defarge of the left," and pushed Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to call Clinton a “socialist,” as Media Matters has noted.
Notwithstanding his repeated attacks on Clinton, Matthews announced on the December 31 broadcast of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show that his New Year's “resolution” is to be “completely open-minded, from now to the next general election for president, about who would be our next best president.”
Additionally, on the December 29 Hardball, Matthews suggested that if “right before the 2008 election George W. Bush bombs Iran,” then “Hillary Clinton will be waking up that morning saluting” Bush “through the dust. She will be saluting the president.” Matthews previously stated during the November 20 edition of Hardball that "[t]he day after the president attacks Iran, Hillary Clinton will be saluting." In fact, regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, Clinton has consistently stated, as she did October 31 during a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, that "[w]e have to keep all options on the table including being ready to talk directly to Iranians should the right opportunity present itself." Clinton continued by emphasizing what she felt was the importance of “pursuing every available peaceful avenue to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power” :
Direct talks, if they do nothing else, lets you assess who's making the decisions -- what their stated and unstated goals might be. And willingness to talk sends two very important messages. First, to the Iranian people, that our quarrel is with their leaders, not with them; and second, to the international community, that we are pursuing every available peaceful avenue to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
From the December 29 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, which also included MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, and The Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon:
BUCHANAN: Exactly. He said, “I was here two years.” I mean, “I said long before this war, I was against it. You didn't know it as a senator? Why do you belong in the White House?” So he's got a tremendous position, Barack Obama does. And Hillary's got a position, which is, “The war was right. It was mismanaged now.” And so -- which is a -- and that's a position that is more credible, I think, than, “Gee, I made a mistake.”
MATTHEWS: OK. Bob, what happens if right before the 2008 election, George W. Bush bombs Iran? My worst -- let me tell you, my worst scenario. The day after we do that and engage the world in a holocaust of attack on us forever from the Arab world and the Islamic world and Europe and everybody else, Hillary Clinton will be waking up that morning saluting through the dust. She will be saluting the president. And I -- my fear is there will never be a debate on whether we attack Iran. We'll never have a vote in Congress on a resolution requiring the president to get a vote. They'll just go along with it like they did with the last war.
SHRUM: Well, first of all, he wouldn't get the vote, so he wouldn't ask for the vote.
MATTHEWS: Why don't the Democrats initiate a vote to stop him, then?
SHRUM: Well, you can't stop something you don't know is going to happen.
MATTHEWS: You can't?
SHRUM: No. What are going to do? I mean, there is a way to stop the war in Iraq, and that is to pass a resolution saying that at a certain point, we're going to stop funding the war -- say, the end of this year. But we ought to be fair to Hillary Clinton here. Senator Clinton has said that knowing what she knows today, she wouldn't have voted for the war. And let's be honest --
MATTHEWS: But the next war is the one that matters. The next time she has to make a decision, do you have any confidence at all she won't support an attack on Iran? She supported the attack on Iraq twice now.
MATTHEWS: I think her weakness is between the two coasts. I think she's very strong in California, very strong in Oregon and Washington state and New England and the mid-Atlantic states, she'll do very well. Pennsylvania could be tricky. But as you move into the center of the country -- Ohio, Michigan, those kinds of states, where people own guns and boats and have a certain attitude towards modern women -- I don't think she'll do so well, Bob. You may disagree.
MATTHEWS: What about my premise that the hard problem for Hillary is not the South, because she's not going to carry the South --
MATTHEWS: -- her problem will be to win those Democratic states in the Midwest that are pretty culturally conservative, beginning with Pennsylvania, once you get west of Philly. Once you get into Reading and move out through the T, we call it, and then move into Ohio, which is very culturally conservative, and then into Michigan, where everybody, you know, wants to have a gun and a boat -- how does Hillary win out there?
SWEET: Look at how she's been positioning herself. Look at even on the issue of abortion, where she talks about, you know, alternatives, make it less available --
MATTHEWS: Do people believe that?
SWEET: -- reaching out. I don't know for sure if people believe a lot of the stuff that people say, but I know what the position is.
MATTHEWS: Do they believe she's not anti-gun?
SWEET: Well -- but certainly Senator Obama isn't going be portrayed as any friend to the NRA either. So, you don't have -- that would be a wash. And that's why each one kind of brings a little different constituency and plus and minus, and I think the --
MATTHEWS: You know, Hillary doesn't look a little bit like a prohibitionist?
SWEET: No. Come on, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Come on. A suffragette?
SWEET: Oh, Chris. Are you playing to a stereotype or what? Where -- why --
MATTHEWS: I am -- I am trying to get you angry.
From the December 31 edition of The Chris Matthews Show, syndicated by NBC:
MATTHEWS: OK, here's my resolution. It's a journalist resolution. Despite everything I say, seeing the arguments for people like [former New York City Mayor Rudy] 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. This is the hardest thing for me to do, not to show my passions, but I'm going to really keep my mind open because I'm not sure who should be our next president. But I know one thing: It's going to be incredibly important.