Earlier this week, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews played the role of concern police in an interview with former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is once again a candidate for governor.
Partial transcript as follows:
MATTHEWS: Let me talk about this thing here. First of all, there is an issue that really bothers me. I don`t like wars we don`t have to fight we get talked into with bad evidence and bad arguments, I don`t like people being screwed out of voting. You know, somebody called me anti-white the other day on a blog because I fight all the time for minorities to vote.
MATTHEWS: I think you can beat somebody in sports, but damn well do it fair.
MATTHEWS: I think you to have a fair playing field in politics.
MATTHEWS: And everybody should get to vote.
CRIST: Absolutely is.
When I was governor, even as a Republican in `08, we had long lines with early voting in Florida. It was Obama vs. McCain. And Dan Gelber, who was the Democratic House leader in Florida, called me up, and he said, Governor, you got to do something about this. It`s wrong.
And, for me, frankly, it`s never been about right vs. left. It`s been about right vs. wrong. And it was a compelling argument to me. And he said, sign an executive order expanding the rights, so our fellow Floridians can vote. So I did it. Four years later…
MATTHEWS: We`re looking at the lines here.
CRIST: Yes. It`s terrible. It was terrible.
Four years later, Rick Scott faces the same situation. Dan Gelber and I called him and say, you`ve got to sign an executive order, like I did four years ago, let our people vote. He wouldn`t do it. And, you know, when you look at Rockefeller —
MATTHEWS: What does he say? We have Pennsylvania guys up there. I openly say it`s partisan. I`m not saying they don`t like black people. I`m saying they don`t like black people voting Democrat.
So what they do is try to make it harder.
CRIST: You`re right. You`re absolutely right. I mean, I`ve been in the discussions. I have seen it. And it`s appalling. And it`s wrong.
You know, people would come to me when I was a Republican governor in the Republican Party, not Republican people, mom and dad store Republicans. They`re good, honest, fair people.
But in the party, the activists really want to try to suppress the vote. And what does that tell you? The guys who can only win when less people vote? That`s not the right team.
And that`s not the right values. And that`s not what we ought to be standing for in America. I don`t care what party you`re in.
We need to be as a democracy encouraging people to vote. You know, it`s important for the democracy to survive that people have the right to vote. >
MATTHEWS: OK, that`s partisan crap to me. It`s just a way to win. It`s dirty politics.
CRIST: It`s wrong.
MATTHEWS: You do it in Pennsylvania. It`s not a Southern/Northern thing. They`re doing it everywhere.
Thirty-six states under Reince Priebus in the Republican Party are doing it. He hates to hear this, but it is his party. And he could blow the whistle on this.
CRIST: Sometimes the truth hurts.
MATTHEWS: Yes, let`s talk about the party you were in a couple of years ago.
MATTHEWS: I always thought of you as a centrist. Now, the Republican Party, even in states like Pennsylvania has gone hard right. Why? And how hard right is it? I mean, are you going to run the old party, going run a right wing guy for president or woman for president next time, or is it still salvageable? Is the boat tilted so far right it can`t come back?
CRIST: It`s a great question. I don`t know what they`re going to do. I have given up predicting what they might do. It`s incredible to me to see what has happened to today Republican Party.
Jeb Bush said it better than I could ever say it. They are now perceived as anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay couples, anti-environment, anti-education.
CRIST: I man, pretty soon there is nobody left in the room.
MATTHEWS: How does he stay in the party?
CRIST: I don`t know. I don`t know. I feel for him.
It`s got to be difficult because he is a reasonable guy. I like Jeb. He is. And he was a good governor.
But today`s Republican Party has literally been hijacked by the Tea Party. It happened about three or four years ago.
MATTHEWS: Here is what I don’t understand nationally, because Florida is the classic — Tim Russert used to say Florida, Florida, Florida.
MATTHEWS: It’s one of the states that really does tell you where we’re headed.
MATTHEWS: In fact, in the days of falling chads, New York had New York accents, Southern accents, all kinds of people.
CRIST: We’ve got it all.
MATTHEWS: What percentage of the party that you were in is hopelessly right wing right now, just Tea Party, angry at the world, won`t change, just can`t stand Obama, doesn`t want to think anymore?
CRIST: Maybe 25, 30 percent.
MATTHEWS: Then why is the tail wagging the dog?
CRIST: I don`t know the answer to that.