Chris Matthews on Senate rumors: "Absolutely not true"

The host of "Hardball" denies that he's staffing up for a campaign; former Clinton spokesman says Matthews should quit TV if he's planning to run.

Published December 1, 2008 11:20PM (EST)

Last week, Alex took note of the rumors that MSNBC's Chris Matthews is considering a run for Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter's seat. Now, word has come from (via Politico’s Michael Calderone) that Matthews has already met with potential campaign staff.

Matthews has denied the report, saying in a statement, "It is absolutely not true."

Of course, since Matthews' contract with MSNBC is up in June 2009, he can stick to that denial for now and still run later if he chooses. That’s probably his best strategy, since he’s already catching flak for openly weighing a campaign while still an employed member of the commentariat. In a post on his blog, Phil Singer, who served as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton during her run for the presidency, wrote:

Chris Matthews has every right to run for the Senate but he shouldn’t risk NBC’s credibility or undermine the faith his viewers place in him. To avoid the appearance of conflict, Chris should do the right thing and remove himself from the air until he has made a decision. If he won’t do it, NBC should suspend him.

Clinton's campaign, it almost goes without saying, wasn't too pleased with Matthews' work during the primaries.

Meanwhile, if Matthews wants to tamp down the speculation, he sure has a funny way of showing it. On Monday, he hosted "Hardball" in front of the Philadelphia skyline.

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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