Even liberal Chris Matthews couldn’t help laughing when the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party refused to say whether the party would hold debates prior to the state’s first-in-the-nation 2016 presidential primary or simply coronate presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
The hilarity began Tuesday night when Raymond Buckley, a former state legislator who has served as chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party since 2007, appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball.
Matthews spent three minutes trying to get Buckley to answer one simple question: “Should there be, as a matter of principle, debates heading towards the Democratic primary next year a year from now?”
After several evasions by Buckley, Matthews tried again, but found Buckley’s responses so “absurd” he repeatedly broke into laughter.
Here’s the partial transcript:
Matthews: As party chair do you want to see debates in the New Hampshire primary if there are multiple candidates?
Buckley: If there are legitimate candidates, sure.
I assume that she would do that.
Matthews: Why so hesitant? . . .There have always been debates in these elections… I grew up with them. There have always been debates, they’re the best things in television.
You’ve got a good debate in New Hampshire, Obama makes a stupid remark like “she’s likeable enough” and it turns things around. Reagan says give me that mic, I paid for it.
Don’t you want the theater of it at least? . . .
Are you so afraid of Hillary Clinton and her peeps that you won’t just say: “Damn it, we need to have debates. This is the Democratic Party, we believe in debates.”
Buckley: We don’t even know if the Secretary has decided to run or not . . .
[More Matthews laughter]
Matthews: OK let me ask you this. This is absurd.
[More Matthews laughter, after which he decides not to ask his debate question again]
“I know where you stand right now,” Matthews told Buckley as he ended the interview. “You don’t.”