‘Hardball’s’ Chris Matthews Talks Politics

Chris MatthewsPhoto by Jeremy Synder ’16.

“Look out if you’re a Democrat. It’s going to be a tough year,” the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” told a crowd of 400 at USF’s McLaren Conference Center on March 18. He went on to hail Hillary Clinton, praise the pope, and make a prediction about Vladimir Putin.

Matthews said the upcoming election will not be a good one for Democrats, and predicted they’ll lose seats in the U.S. Congress. The party in power historically loses seats in midterm elections, but Matthews says it’ll be worse this time because many centrist Democrats who are disillusioned by the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act won’t vote. He said the opposite is true for Republicans, who will “vote in droves” because they’re angry. 

Matthews also said the Democrats’ best bet for the 2016 presidential election is Hillary Clinton, at least for the moment.

In world news, Matthews wasn’t surprised that Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine. “His opportunity was there laying on the table, and he took it. It would have been odd if he hadn’t.” He predicted Putin’s power play would build pride throughout Russia.

Matthews is pleased by changes at the Vatican, and he praised Pope Francis for making the church more welcoming, and for bringing a sharp focus to poverty and inequality. “People come up to me and tell me, ‘I love this new pope,’” he said. 

Matthews’ talk was moderated by Robert McElroy, auxiliary bishop for the San Francisco Archdiocese.

The “Hardball” host spent a week at USF as a distinguished visiting professor, teaching “Public Affairs and Practical Politics” to graduate students. In class, Matthews shared strategies and tips for advancing the public good through politics, and when he returned to Washington, Matthews shared USF students’ questions and his answers with millions of “Hardball” viewers. 

“How do we bring morality to politics?” he asked on the air. “The best answer I’ve been able to come up with, which I shared with the class at USF, is this: If you don’t enter public life with a strong moral sense of what is right and wrong, you won’t develop one once you’re in there…if you do come in with a strong moral sense…you’ll know when you’re ready to stand up against the pressures of people who don’t come in with a good moral compass.” 

The Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good sponsored Matthews’ USF visit.




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