Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus may have canceled the first day of the party’s convention due to weather, but he couldn’t evacuate in time to escape the wrath of Hurricane Chris.
The party chairman found himself on Monday weathering a blistering rant from MSNBC host Chris Matthews about how Republicans were playing the “race card” with birther jokes and falsehoods about ending work requirements for welfare.
“That cheap shot about ‘I don’t have a problem with my birth certificate’ was awful,” Matthews said of GOP hopeful Mitt Romney’s Friday embrace of the birther notion that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. “It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card.”
“This stuff about getting rid of the work requirement for welfare is dishonest, everyone has pointed out that it’s dishonest,” he continued. “And you are playing that little ethnic card there. You can play your games and giggle about it, but the fact is, your side is playing that card. You start talking about work requirements, you know what game you’re playing, everybody knows what game you’re playing. It’s a race card.”
“And this thing about birthers — yeah, if your name’s Romney, you were well born, you went to prep school, you can brag about it. And this [Barack Obama] guy, he’s got an African name, he’s got to live with it. … This is absurdity! Making fun of this guy’s birth certificate issue when it was never a real issue, except on the right wing.”
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tried to give Priebus some cover, defending Romney as simply “misfiring badly” with the so-called birther joke. But the RNC chairman decided to take Matthews on.
“You got your monologue in, so congratulations,” Priebus quipped to Matthews. “You’re loaded up, you got it out. So, good for you. The fact of the matter is, is he’s from Michigan, he was born in Michigan, he was making the point that I was born in Michigan. And you know what? We’ve gotten to a place in politics that any moment of levity totally frowned upon by guys like you just so that you can push your brand.”
“It just seems funny that the first joke that he’s ever told in his life is about Obama’s birth certificate,” Matthews pointed out.
“I think Obama’s policies have created a sense that, for whatever reason, he’s looking for guidance, as far as health care is concerned, as far as our spending is concerned, as far as these stimulus packages are concerned — he’s looking to Europe for guidance,” Priebus explained.
“What?” Matthews exclaimed. “Where do you get this from? This is insane! … What’s this got to do with Europe and the foreignization of the guy. You’re doing it again now! You think he’s influenced by foreign influences? You’re playing that card again.”
“I’m not going to get into a shouting match with Chris,” the RNC chairman said, dismissing the MSNBC host with a wave of his hand.
“Because you’re losing, that’s why,” Matthews shot back.
“No, I’m not losing,” Priebus insisted. “I’m not going to sit here and take shots.”
“Cheap shots about how Obama being a foreigner is the thing your party’s been pushing,” Matthews noted. “[Romney surrogate John] Sununu pushes it. Everybody pushes it in your party.”
“It’s garbage,” Priebus replied. “Garbage.”
“It’s your garbage,” Matthews concluded.
Watch this video from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, broadcast Aug. 27, 2012.