Watch: Chris Matthews, Rudy Giuliani Battle Over Birtherism

Thursday on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani got into a heated exchange over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s successful insistence that President Barack Obama show his birth certificate.

When Giuliani said Trump accepts the president’s Hawaii birthplace, Matthews exploded, peppering Giuliani with questions.

Partial transcript as follows:

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you one last question. I have to ask you one last question. I know you don’t like this question but I think it’s appropriate given you are a major, as you just demonstrated, strong surrogate and defender of the candidacy for president of Donald Trump. A couple of his people, including his vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, and of course, Dr. Ben Carson, have both come out in the last days, hours, practically, and said they believe President Obama is a legitimately elected president of the United States. In other words, he was born in the United States. Do you confirm that? Do you agree with that?

GIULIANI: I confirm that and Donald Trump now confirms that.

MATTHEWS: When did he do that? When did he do that? When did he…

GIULIANI: Two years ago. Three years ago.

MATTHEWS: He has now accepted that birtherism was nonsense? When did he do that?

GIULIANI: Chris, Hillary Clinton —

MATTHEWS: He did not do that yet. I’m waiting for him to do it.

GIULIANI: Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the first to bring up the fact that there was a question —

MATTHEWS: Where did they do that? Where did they do that?

GIULIANI: Donald Trump has said that –

MATTHEWS: Give me the example when they did that. You just said Hillary Clinton accused — has Hillary Clinton ever accused the president of being foreign-born, ever?

GIULIANI: Her campaign did during the primary.

MATTHEWS:  Hillary for president campaign did this?


MATTHEWS: No, it didn’t. there’s no evidence.

GIULIANI: I was always responsible for-

MATTHEWS: I want to know do you believe your candidate for president believes he would succeed as legitimate president or not? Does he believe he would succeed a legitimate president?

GIULIANI: Donald Trump believes now that he was born in the United States.

MATTHEWS: When is he going to say it? When is he going to say that his president is legitimate? This is a fundamental question, Mr. Mayor. Is the president of the United States legitimate or not? Do you believe it? If you believe it, why doesn’t your candidate state it?

GIULIANI: I believe it. He believes it. We all believe it.

MATTHEWS: He does? are you speaking for him now? Are you speaking for Donald Trump tonight, on live television? Are you saying for him, I’m saying he’s about to buckle and say finally, that Barack Obama is a legitimate president of the United States?

GIULIANI: He is the one who got him to finally produce the birth certificate. Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue. He picked this up from Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: He subsequently said he does not accept that as the final word. Okay. Can you commit to your candidate saying within the next 24 hours that President Obama’s a legitimate president? Can you commit for him that he will say that?

GIULIANI: He has said it already. And the fact is —

MATTHEWS: No, he hasn’t.

GIULIANI: That’s an issue —

MATTHEWS: You are wrong on the fact here, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: Every once in awhile, I am. I think he did. The fact is I believe —

MATTHEWS: I think you’re wrong. Okay. But you say, all I can ask you —

GIULIANI: The point is Hillary Clinton’s campaign is the first one to do it because all she does is engage in negative campaigning against Barack Obama and against Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: First of all, she has never said that. Your candidate has on numerous occasions and I’m asking you the final word, we will end this back and forth. Can you say authoritatively on behalf of Donald Trump he was wrong in saying the president was born in another country? Can you say that now?

GIULIANI: I believe he picked up on what Hillary Clinton’s campaign said first. He pushed Obama. Obama finally produced the birth certificate and it showed he was born in Hawaii.

MATTHEWS: Therefore?

GIULIANI: Therefore he’s an American citizen.

MATTHEWS: As per Donald Trump.

GIULIANI: As per Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Donald Trump says so? He’s told you that? Has he ever told you this privately? That he believes this president is legitimate?

GIULIANI: He has told me that he is proud of the fact that he finally got Obama to produce his birth certificate.

MATTHEWS: Fine. I think we have it on the record, Mr. Mayor. I’m glad you came on. I do want to put this to rest. I don’t think this is funny. I think when you accuse president of the United States of being someone who snuck in the country and assumed an identity. That’s what Trump has been doing for years now.

GIULIANI: Not when your opponent in the democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, who has lied probably 1,000 times over e-mails —

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, there’s no record at all on the record right now, we checked this before you came on because one of our senior producers thought you might say this, there is absolutely no record ever of Hillary Clinton or anyone in her campaign ever saying that President Obama is not legitimate.

GIULIANI: Her campaign raised it.


GIULIANI: Originally.

MATTHEWS: You’re wrong.

GIULIANI: I’m not wrong. I’m right about that.

MATTHEWS: Look, anybody can say anything they want. She can control her own campaign. She’s never said so, nor has anyone speaking for her. Now you are speaking for Donald Trump. We are ending this now because we are spending a lot of time on it but I think it is important. You say this president’s legitimately elected president of the United States and you say your candidate agrees with you.

GIULIANI: And instead of talking about the fact that Hillary Clinton violated about 40 federal laws we are talking about this. It is ridiculous.

MATTHEWS: It is ridiculous.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN