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Chris Matthews Gives The Teabaggers A Nice Softball Interview

Oh lookie here. Chris Matthews decided to have himself a little astroturf tea party with FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe and Americans for Prosperity's Tim P
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Oh lookie here. Chris Matthews decided to have himself a little astroturf tea party with FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe and Americans for Prosperity's Tim Phillips. Never during the interview did Matthews talk about or ask either of these guys who funds their groups. I'm sure Dick Armey is grateful Chris. Maybe he was just trying to make up to Tim for the pummeling he received on Rachel Maddow's show.

I will give Matthews credit for this at least pointing this out about Ronald Reagan to Matt Kibbe:

MATTHEWS: Has there ever been a strong conservative president, for example, in your lifetime or anybody -- your grandfather`s lifetime? Who do you look to as a good role model for the tea party people?

KIBBE: Well, obviously, Ronald Reagan is the closest thing we have.

MATTHEWS: What did he do in terms of fiscal policy?

KIBBE: Oh, he -- he said that we shouldn`t spend money we don`t have, and he said that the government shouldn`t get involved in things that it`s not very good at doing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes. Have you ever checked the numbers with Reagan?

KIBBE: Well, I understand. I understand...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The national debt went from under $1 trillion to $3 trillion. He did more to increase exponentially the size of the debt of any president in history. And he`s your role model.

Here's the treatment Tim Phillips got on Rachel's show--Maddow Blasts AFP's Tim Phillips as "Parasite", "Bad for the Country" Quite a difference from the warm and fuzzy interview Matthews did with him today.

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Full transcript below the fold via.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s shake it up.

Matt Kibbe is president of FreedomWorks, which organizes tea party events around the country. Tim Phillips is president of Americans For Prosperity. He`s also organized tea party protests.

I`m going to start with Matt, who is with me.

So, what is the plan. How do you guys shake things up and move the country where you want it to move?

MATT KIBBE, PRESIDENT, FREEDOMWORKS: I think we have got to get the Republicans and the Democrats to get back to what I call the fiscal conservative, the issues that drive the tea parties.

MATTHEWS: Who would be a role model for you in that regard?

KIBBE: Who would -- I think this is a leaderless movement, to be honest...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Has there ever been a strong conservative president, for example, in your lifetime or anybody -- your grandfather`s lifetime? Who do you look to as a good role model for the tea party people?

KIBBE: Well, obviously, Ronald Reagan is the closest thing we have.

MATTHEWS: What did he do in terms of fiscal policy?

KIBBE: Oh, he -- he said that we shouldn`t spend money we don`t have, and he said that the government shouldn`t get involved in things that it`s not very good at doing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes. Have you ever checked the numbers with Reagan?

KIBBE: Well, I understand. I understand...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The national debt went from under $1 trillion to $3 trillion. He did more to increase exponentially the size of the debt of any president in history.

And he`s your role model.

KIBBE: Well, President Obama is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, I`m asking you. I have asked you one president that you can look up to who was good at tea party politics and ideology.

KIBBE: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: If it`s not Reagan, because he clearly didn`t do it, who do you look to? Coolidge? How far do you have to look back?

KIBBE: I think we need to find somebody that can meet that standard.

MATTHEWS: So, nobody has recently?

KIBBE: No, certainly not.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Tim Phillips with the same question.

Every party and every movement tends to need a hero. Who`s yours?

TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: I think, right now, Jim DeMint from South Carolina and Tom Coburn from Oklahoma are principal leaders in the Senate.

I mean, take these earmarks, for example. They don`t just vote against budget bills, Chris. They refuse to stuff goodies in for their own states. And I think those guys right now are good role models.

In the House, I really respect Jeff Flake. For years, when the Republicans were in power, he would stand up, force earmark votes. They stripped him of his Judiciary Committee, the leadership did, Hastert and those guys. And it was wrong. And he stood on principle.

So, those are three guys I really respect right now that I think most movement conservatives in the tea party movement can be excited about.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s catch up with DeMint here, the senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint. He said he wants to encourage the recruitment of new Republicans, he calls them, to join him in the U.S. Senate.

Let`s listen to DeMint to make your point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When I was deciding whether to run again for another six years in the Senate, what I decided, if I`m going to be here, I am no longer going to go along with this idea that we`re going to keep spending and borrowing and taking over and raising taxes, that I`m going to do everything I can to change things. And to do that, I need some new Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to you, Matt. And you can go back and forth here, Matt and Tim.

I want to know, because it`s clearly no president. Once they get in the presidency, something happens. They always see the new information. They never really balance the budget. I think you can go about -- Clinton did a couple times at the end. Ike did a few times. Harry Truman did. But it doesn`t seem to happen recently. They`re up to $1.5 trillion right now in deficit.

What happens to conservatives when they get near the White House? How come they only seem to be talking the good talk at, say, the Senate level, when they don`t have to run the show?

KIBBE: Well, I think, any politician, you have to hold them to their word. And conservatives run on fiscal conservatism. But, when they get into office, they...

MATTHEWS: Pork city.

KIBBE: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

KIBBE: It`s a two-party...

MATTHEWS: They`re all like this.

KIBBE: It`s a two-party problem.

The whole reason we organize grassroots is, we think any politician that gets elected needs to be held accountable 365 days a year.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Tim, when are congressmen and senators, accept for the holy trinity you mentioned there, with no disrespect to the real thing, when are they going to realize that sending letters home to their district and their state that brags about how much pork they brought home isn`t going to work?

And, by the way, doesn`t it work? When they put out the -- you know those newsletters we get at taxpayer expense?

PHILLIPS: Right.

MATTHEWS: It`s the "Postal Patron." And you got to pick it up. It says: " I got you this. I got you that."

Doesn`t that work with voters?

PHILLIPS: Well, I think voters that sometimes in the past have looked at that and go, hey, yes, we`re getting our money back.

I do believe, Chris, there`s a new concern and frustration across this country. I know the polling data shows that people are more worried about debt and deficits.

And I look at this legislation today. There was a budget bill in the House. I`m sure you saw this. All the Republicans voted against it. And good for them on that, because it was a big spending bill. But a bunch of them stuffed earmarks into it. And what hypocrisy. And that is one thing that drives activists at Americans For Prosperity nuts, to see these guys stand up and make a final vote and thump their chest and say, we`re good free market conservatives, but then quietly they go put earmarks in there.

That`s one of the reasons I think next year, in 2010, you`re going to see a lot of activists going, wait a minute; do I want to get involved in primaries? Do I want to educate folks on where these guys really are? I think you`re going to see a lot of that next year.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the funny part -- it`s not funny if you`re John McCain. Here`s a guy that is against pork. He`s gotten threatened by J.D. Hayworth. Would you pick McCain, who is known to be an enemy of pork, or side with the more rabble-rousing, perhaps more exciting taste of the month, J.D. Hayworth?

No, seriously. Do you go for the younger guy or the older guy, the guy who has been good on fighting pork, or do you just want to make some noise?

PHILLIPS: I really respect Senator McCain, because, over the years, no matter which party was in power, he has stood strong on spending, both in the Pentagon, which is never easy to do, and elsewhere.

On the other issues, like cap and trade, for example, which we`re strongly against, he`s wavered and not been so good. That`s one of those races I`ll have to look more closely at. I don`t mean to dodge your question, Chris, but I`m not ready to say which guy I would prefer.

MATTHEWS: What about Marco Rubio in Florida? Are you going to try to back him against Charlie Crist, the governor?

PHILLIPS: At Americans for Prosperity, we don`t endorse candidates. But I`ll tell you, Rubio is one of these free market conservatives who is exciting to see out there. By all accounts, when you look at his record as speaker, it was strong on the issues that our folks at American for Prosperity across the tea market care about. He`s one of those guys you can get excited about, you bet.

MATTHEWS: Matt, how about third party? What about the Tea Party? Sarah Palin is kind of hard to read. She is fascinating. Let`s face it, we`re all fascinated with her, because she`s exciting as a political figure right now. But she`s talking third party. I mean, she answered the question of Lars Larson. Maybe it just came to mind, but she said, yeah, I might go third party, something like that. Would you guys knock off an incumbent Republican by going third party? You know how the vote splits. Split the right, the Dem wins.

KIBBE: The better way to do it is to take other the Republican party. Frankly, that`s what our goal is. We need to replace the Republican establishment with fiscal conservatives that are actually willing to cut spending.

MATTHEWS: Do you trust Romney or do you think he switches too much on issues?

KIBBE: I think I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: You don`t know? It`s your business.

KIBBE: I think all these guys --

MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. What do you think of Romney? He sort of runs as a fiscal conservative now. He`s pro-life now. He seems more hawkish and more far right than he was when he was governor of Massachusetts. What do you think of him? He may well be the front-runner.

KIBBE: I think if he`s running for senator of Massachusetts, he`s pretty attractive. As president, maybe not less.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Tim? I`m thinking about who your guys are going to back against Palin. Or are you going to go with Palin. Bottom line, you only get to select among those who run. You don`t get to pick candidates. You get to select among those out there. Among those out there, Pawlenty, Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, who looks good to you guys from your Tea Party perspective?

PHILLIPS: I think it`s way too early to tell. Sarah Palin excites a lot of folks at the grass roots events. What she`s turning out on her book tour is pretty amazing. Mitt Romney, his rhetoric during his campaign was really good. The health care legislation he put forth in Massachusetts worried folks and still does, I think. Governor Pawlenty -- it`s just too early.

I think 2010, Chris, is easier to handicap and look at, because you know who actually is out there, what they`re saying, what their records are. I think it`s tough to kind of put the crystal ball on three years from now, with any sense of clarity. But 2010 you can talk about, like with Rubio, or like with Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, who is a guy that a lot of guys are looking at and saying, wow, look at what that guy`s record was in the House, and then what he did at club.

MATTHEWS: If Pat Toomey stays up the crazy issues, he can win that race. I`ll tell you. I know Pennsylvania. He could win. Good luck, guys. No, not good luck. But it`s interesting meeting you. Matt Kibbe -- if I say good luck, I get in trouble. Thank you, Tim Phillips. Thank you, Matt Kibbe. By the way, you`re much more cerebral and sober than you are at those meetings.

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