Chris Matthews Still 'Thrilled' About Obama

During 2008 election, 'felt this thrill going up my leg' over Obama

August 2, 2019

MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews on Thursday night told a panel he is still "thrilled" about Barack Obama's 2008 victory.

Matthews and the panel were discussing the Democratic debate on Wednesday night and how Obama's record received criticism when presidential candidates targeted Joe Biden, who served as Obama's vice president.

"The historic nature of Barack Obama running in '08 and '12 was so dramatic, I can understand why people of color who don't normally vote think it's all BS or whatever showed up because it was so thrilling," Matthews said. "I was thrilled and I get thrilled thinking about what happened in '08. It's still thrilling to me. It was thrilling what he said in '04 at the convention up in Boston."

Matthews went on to say there won't always be a "thrilling, charismatic African American person of either gender or any background" running for president. He then asked MSNBC analyst Zerlina Maxwell whether she believes a ticket of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg could excite the inner city and people of color.

"Yes, because black people care about policies, not just the personality of the politician. Barack Obama is a once in a lifetime politician. There are very few people in the history of the world that are as charismatic and good at giving amazing speeches as President Obama," Maxwell said.

This isn't the first time Matthews has described a "thrill" over Obama. Back in 2004, Matthews said he felt a "chill" in his legs following Obama's keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Four years later, Matthews described a similar "thrill" while covering the 2008 Democratic primary with Keith Olbermann.

"I have to tell you. It's part of reporting this case, this election. The feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama speak," Matthews said. "My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I don't have that too often."

"Steady," Olbermann said.

"No, seriously. It's a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics and has to do with the feeling we have about our country. That is an objective assessment," Matthews said.

Matthews has been asked about his "thrill" comment multiple times since 2008 and has become visibly angry when people remind him of it. Back in 2012, a moderator read a question from someone asking Matthews whether he still felt a "thrill" up his leg, prompting Matthews to push back and tell the moderator that "If you had done your reporting over at CSPAN, you would have checked that I said the same exact thing in 2004 after I heard his address up here in Boston." He would later say, "Perhaps I shouldn't have said so because I've given a lot of jackasses a chance to talk about it."

"I hope you feel satisfied that you raised the most obvious question that is raised by every horse's a— right-winger I ever bump into and usually they say tingle, which tells me about their orientation, but that's alright," Matthews added.

Conservative watchdog Media Research Center's Dan Joseph would later approach Matthews in 2015 at a Republican primary debate in Las Vegas and introduced himself. He then asked him about his leg.

"We just wanted to know really quickly, how is your leg?" Joseph asked.

"What leg?" Matthews asked.

"The leg. Is the thrill still there in the leg or is it not?" Joseph asked.

"You can go to hell, OK? Just go to hell. Just leave me alone," Matthews said, pushing Joseph away. "Just leave me alone. Just leave me alone."

"Is the leg OK? Are you limping or is it—?" Joseph asked.

Matthews told him he had a "psychological problem," prompting Joseph to say, "We're rooting for you over at MRC, man."

Back in 2013, Matthews said Obama has "never done anything wrong in his life."