Chris Matthews (Screen shot)

Chris Matthews slams racist GOP dogwhistles: Republicans act like their "base is wearing sheets"

Republicans can't help but think eight years of a "demographically symbolic" president is enough

Scott Eric Kaufman
April 21, 2015 4:31PM (UTC)

On "Hardball" yesterday, host Chris Matthews described the current state of affairs in the Republican "clown car" as being so determined to appeal to the fringe elements of the GOP that the appeals made by its occupants were indistinguishable from Klan rhetoric.

Matthews was examining statements about Hillary Clinton by potential Republican candidates like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee. He was particularly concerned by the latter's contention that parents shouldn't encourage their children to serve in the United States Armed Forces until President Barack Obama is out of office.


"I'd wait a couple of years, until we got a new Commander-in-Chief, that will once again believe one nation under God and believes that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing, but defending this country," Huckabee said.

Matthews then played clips of the National Rifle Association's President Wayne LaPierre saying that "eight years of a demographically symbolic president is enough," and Iowa Representative Steve King accusing Obama of "importing millions of illegal immigrants" in order to stack the electorate with undocumented immigrants who will vote Democratic.

The Washington Post's national political reporter Matea Gold noted that all these statements are just dog-whistles intended solely for the ears of a disaffected Republican base.

"Why does [the base] have a problem with a black president?" Matthews asked, in reference to LaPierre's remarks.

MSNBC's David Corn answered, saying that the last eight years have made it clear that the Republican base wants to "depict Barack Obama as 'the other' -- whether because he's 'demographically symbolic,' a secret socialist, Muslim, or Kenyan."

The base has become so accustomed to these claims that "you can't get just from 1 to 10 anymore, you've got to go to 11 or 12." Corn pivoted back to Huckabee, saying that what he meant was that the president loves Muslims more than Christians.


"Some of these guys," Matthews interjected, "talk like they think the base is wearing sheets. I think they may have underestimated who the Republican voter is -- at least, I hope they have."

Watch the entire "Hardball" segment below via MSNBC.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at

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Chris Matthews David Corn Elections 2016 Mike Huckabee Video


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