MSNBC's Chris Matthews talked to Republican strategist Todd Harris and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon about which way Barack Obama should lead the country. Matthews rejected the idea that Obama must govern from the center when Republican presidents governed from the right even though they had little or no mandate.


The exchange between Matthews and Harris starts at about 2:50 in the video below.

Partial transcript

MATTHEWS: Todd, it seems to me that he has one chance to get everything done. Ronald Reagan taught everybody to get it done the first year or don't talk about it anymore. It seems to me that the Democrats are going to deliver on what they promised. It's not anybody else's promise. It's their promise. They've got to get healthcare done. They've got to create a universal healthcare system. They've got to deal with energy. Create green jobs. About 5 million green jobs he promised to produce. He's got to do it. He can't say I'll put it off to the year after the year after next. He's got to deal with it in his first Congress. That means get it done, basically, by June of next year. Just in political terms, do you think this guy can survive has president if all he does is do a little tax cuts and push SCHIP or removes the ban on stem cell?

HARRIS: No. I don't. But big doesn't need to be conflated with liberal. He can be big and still govern from the center. It's important people not lose site over what this election was and what it wasn't. What it was was a historic victory for Barack Obama. What it was not was a wholesale realignment of American politics to the left. If you look at...

MATTHEWS: You guys are so - you speak with a forked tongue, Todd. You speak with a forked tongue. Let me just tell you something. When Ronald Reagan won with 51%... Let me finish my point. When Ronal Reagan won with 51%, when your guy, George Bush, won with less votes than Al Gore - you talk about mandates - he went in there and did exactly what he wanted to do. He cut taxes for the rich across the board. He did everything he wanted to do. He took us to war in Iraq the way he wanted to do it. The idea that you should pussyfoot if you're a Democrat but if you are a Republican you can go in there whole hog - you have totally two standards here: "Republicans should take advantage of every victor and call it mandate. Democrats should go in there and be very cautious. Gee whiz, I'm sorry for being here. I hope we don't offend the conservatives."

This video is from MSNBC's Harball, broadcast Nov. 10, 2008.


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