MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews lambasted President Donald Trump on Tuesday for his criticism of NATO defense spending — and casually dropped the charge that Trump’s rallies are “dog training” for his heartland voters.
Matthews accused Trump of being more critical of NATO’s defense spending budget than Russian aggression towards Europe before insulting attendees of his recent rally in Great Falls, Montana.
“He is taking a Republican Party, a grassroots party that’s spent 60, 70 years leading the war in the Cold War, hating the Russians for all their aggressiveness in the world and taking over the countries on the border and being tyrannical the way they are now and he has those people cheering against Western Europe,” he said. “He’s dog-training these people.”
Sahil Kapur, a national political reporter for Bloomberg, told Matthews that President Trump’s statements would have been met with scorn from conservatives if former President Barack Obama had uttered them. “I think President Trump is doing this on a level that would make a lot of Republicans nervous,” he speculated.
Turning his attention to President Trump’s supporters, Matthews criticized rally attendees for cheering proposals aimed at giving NATO allies more responsibility of their own security concerns. “They’re not getting paid. They’re not running for anything. Those regular people that show up for a Trump rally are cheering the attacks on our European allies and cheering ‘give a chance to little Putin,’” he complained.
Over breakfast in Brussels with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, President Trump lamented how the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline may leave Germany and other European countries perilously dependent on Russia for its energy needs.
“It is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes and pays out billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” the President said. “We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries.”
“We’re paying a lot of money to protect, this has been going on for decades… it’s very unfair to our country, it’s very unfair to our taxpayers… these countries need to step it up, not over a ten year period, but immediately,” he added.
President Trump told NATO allies on Wednesday they should commit to increasing military spending from 2 percent to 4 percent of their GDP by 2024.