MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Wednesday questioned Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's "strong position" in favor of taking down Confederate statues.
"I guess I'm one person who looks at this politically and wonders why Northam took such a strong position for taking down the statues, because it's a real tricky question because certainly battlefield generals could be properly left on the battlefield in Gettysburg and places like that, and Bull Run and places like Vicksburg," Matthews said on his show "Hardball."
He went on to say that it makes sense to memorialize Confederate generals on battlefields for their roles in the actual battles, but that one could argue about whether it is appropriate to do so in public parks.
"I wonder if this is a winner politically in the Commonwealth of Virginia," Matthews said.
USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page credited Northam's Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, for playing up the issue in his television ads against Northam, saying that it has been helpful in rural parts of Virginia. However, she said that it has not been as successful in the northern suburbs of the state.
"I think it's one of the things that has made this race frighteningly close for Democrats. We've seen seven statewide polls in the month of October," Page said. "Northam, the Democrat, led in only four of them. Gillespie led in three of them. This is clearly a race that could go either way, although we think Northam probably has a single digit lead at the moment."
"Well, I think Robert E. Lee is Ed Gillespie's running mate," Matthews quipped.
Gillespie recently released an ad against Northam with audio of the Democrat saying that he will do "everything that [he] can to remove statues at the state level."