Chris Matthews KOs Ted Cruz: "They seized the presidency in 2000 and you did not complain!"

"If there was ever a case of partisanship or ideology getting out of hand, it was 2000, and you loved it!"

Published July 9, 2015 1:54AM (EDT)

Sure, Ted Cruz vs Chris Matthews on "Hardball" might not be the Lincoln/Douglas debates. But it's rare enough to have a star of the Red Team venture onto the network of the Blue Team that when it happens, it's worth tuning in. Maybe this is the one good thing about campaign books -- the politicians will promote them everywhere.

MSNBC sent out this transcript, and here's one of our favorite pieces, a debate over Bush v Gore and the nature of the independent judiciary.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Let's talk about the election.  In the 2000 election, you had a bill role in the recount.  We covered it here.  It was the best thing I ever covered.  I never liked covering anything like the recount.

But you bring the Supreme Court into it, which you were happy as a lover of the Supreme Court then.  You brought them in.  They basically said the state lost its rights to recount (INAUDIBLE) because of equal protection.

Now -- now, on the issue of marriage equality, you say no equal protection, leave the states alone.  So how do you be consistent there?  Are you consistent or inconsistent on equal protection?

TED CRUZ:  Listen, I believe I'm very consistent.  And one of the things I describe in the book is how I've spent my entire adult life fighting to defend the Constitution.  It's been a passion literally since I was a teenager...

MATTHEWS:  You've always been pro-Supreme Court.

CRUZ:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Until now.

CRUZ:  I revere the court.  As you know I was a law clerk to Chief Justice Rehnquist.

MATTHEWS:  As you would say, it's in the book.   I really think it's important to read it. Now you're for retention elections.  You've had to raise a ton of money to run for president, and you're definitely in the running.  You'll be in the debates and everything.  Should judges have to go out and raise $37 billion to run for reelection?  How can you put judges out there and make them politicians?

CRUZ:  Listen...

MATTHEWS:  They won't be an independent judiciary.

CRUZ:  I am reluctant to call for retention elections.  It makes me sad.

MATTHEWS:  But you've done it!

CRUZ:  But I have done it because I believe that a majority of the justices are not honoring their judicial oaths.  And...

MATTHEWS:  Is that the solution, elections?

CRUZ:  Look, if unelected judges are going to seize every major policy issue of this country -- you know, there was a time...

MATTHEWS:  They seized the presidency in 2000 and you did not complain!  The Supreme Court said no to the state of Florida.  You can't recount!  Even though it's a close election, you are not allowed to recount.  We're giving this to our guy, 5 to 4 Republican vote in the Supreme Court.  If there was ever a case of partisanship or ideology getting out of hand, it was 2000, and you loved it!

CRUZ:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  You loved it!  You were cheering, you said in the book!

CRUZ:  Chris, those are great talking points.

MATTHEWS:  But they're true.

CRUZ:  How many times did they count the ballots in Florida?


CRUZ:  Four times.  How many times did Bush win?

MATTHEWS:  Four times.

CRUZ:  Four times.

MATTHEWS:  They wanted to try it one more time.

CRUZ:  Yes, the...

MATTHEWS:  Aren't states allowed to do that?

CRUZ:  The Democrats' strategy was, We're going to keep counting and counting and counting and counting, and eventually, maybe enough people will cheat and somehow our guy will win. After four times...

MATTHEWS:  How do you know they're going to cheat?

CRUZ:  After four times...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  I just think it's a case of states' rights, which you usually champion, and equal protection, which is the first time in the history Republicans championed equal protection, and then they've lost interest in it now...

CRUZ:  I describe how the first time the Supreme Court unanimously vacated what the Florida supreme court...


CRUZ:  ... did when it came down -- you know what the Florida Supreme Court did?


CRUZ:  It told the U.S. Supreme Court go jump in a lake, didn't even cite its opinion!

MATTHEWS:  I know, but they wanted to continue with the recount under the decision of the legislature.

CRUZ:  It was partisan defiance of the court.  And frankly, what the Florida supreme court did in the Bush versus Gore recount is the same thing the U.S. Supreme Court did with "Obama care."

By Salon Staff

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Bush V Gore Chris Matthews Hardball Msnbc Supreme Court Ted Cruz