Matthews accused Sen. Clinton of taking "poll-tested path" and "trying to play it safe" on abortion

Matthews accused Sen. Clinton of taking "poll-tested path" and "trying to play it safe" on abortion

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

Playing a clip of a 2005 speech in which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," Chris Matthews suggested that she was being disingenuous and accused her of "trying to play it safe" on the issue in order to follow the "same poll-tested path" in 2008 as previous Democratic presidential nominees during failed bids for the White House. But Matthews offered no support for his suggestion that Clinton's 2005 statement on abortion was disingenuous, nor did he mention that she used exactly those words in describing her views on abortion in 1999.

During the April 23 broadcast of his syndicated NBC news show, Chris Matthews accused Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) of "trying to play it safe" on the issue of abortion in order to follow the "same poll-tested path" in 2008 as previous Democratic presidential nominees during failed bids for the White House. He played a clip of her saying in 2005 that abortions should be "safe, legal, and rare," and suggested that she was being disingenuous, avoiding expressing her real views regardless of "what anybody thinks." But Matthews offered no support for his suggestion that Clinton's 2005 statement on abortion was disingenuous, nor did he mention that she used exactly those words in describing her views on abortion in 1999, as Media Matters for America has noted.

Leading into a discussion on the 2008 presidential race, Matthews noted that Time magazine senior writer and columnist Joe Klein's book Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid (Doubleday, 2006) argues that Democratic presidential campaigns, such as those of Sen. John F. Kerry (MA), former Vice President Al Gore, and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, all failed because they were run with "only one goal in mind: to avoid taking any risks." He then played a clip of Sen. Clinton addressing the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) on July 25, 2005, in which she said, "We can support a woman's right to choose that makes abortion safe, legal, and rare, and reduces the number of abortions." Matthews then asked: "What's in the Democratic water? Why do they all talk like that? Why can't they say, 'Here's what I feel, damn it. I don't care what anybody thinks?' " However Clinton's remarks in July 2005 were consistent with those she made on January 22, 1999, while still first lady. During a speech at a National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL, now NARAL Pro-Choice America) function marking the 30th anniversary of the organization and the 26th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, she said: "But all too often, generally because of the loudest voices, the American people don't hear explained the efforts that we're engaged in to continue to work with people from all different walks of life to make abortion safe, legal, and rare."

As Media Matters previously noted, Matthews suggested during the December 11, 2005, broadcast of The Chris Matthews Show that Clinton's July 2005 statement on abortion at the DLC meeting amounted to a "softening" and "changing" of her position on the issue, with his guest, CBS News contributor and U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Gloria Borger agreeing that the statement was a "transparent" public relations move.

From the April 23 broadcast of NBC's The Chris Matthews Show:

MATTHEWS: Back in '88, Michael Dukakis had a double-digit lead over George Bush, only to lose big in November. Al Gore ran on a record of peace and prosperity but failed to win the White House. And despite an unpopular war, John Kerry couldn't beat out George W. Bush. What did these candidates all have in common? In Joe Klein's latest book, Politics Lost, he argues that they all ran campaigns with only one goal in mind: to avoid taking any risks. Is Hillary Clinton going down the same poll-tested path? Here she is trying to play it safe, on immigration, Iraq, and abortion.

[...]

CLINTON [video clip]: We can support a woman's right to choose that makes abortion safe, legal, and rare, and reduces the number of abortions.

MATTHEWS: What's in the Democratic water? Why do they all talk like that? Why can't they say, "Here's what I feel, damn it. I don't care what anybody thinks?"

Posted In
Health Care, Reproductive Rights
Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
The Chris Matthews Show
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Hillary Clinton
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