MSNBC host Chris Matthews has been forced to apologize in the past for using loaded language about Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), and his true feelings for the candidate were on full display again during a Morning Joe appearance Wednesday.
Matthews remarked Cruz had a "troll-like quality" that was "below the level of human life," said there was a "darkness" to Cruz's character that frightened him, and suggested that Cruz, a Cuban-American, is a "theocrat" who views President Obama like Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
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"The thing about—there's a troll-like quality to Ted Cruz," Matthews said. "He operates below the level of human life."
"OK, Chris, that’s a little tough," host Joe Scarborough said. "You have not gotten sleep."
"Am I allowed to have an opinion?" Matthews asked. "I think he appeals to people's negativity rather than their joy. I don't think people feel good about voting for Cruz. I don’t know what it is he appeals to."
Matthews compared Cruz to the communist-hunting Sen. Joe McCarthy, a comparison he has made dozens of times on MSNBC.
"There’s something about him that's negative and menacing," Matthews said. "So when I say below the level of human life, I mean the good nature of human life. Not just being a person. Although … "
Washington Post reporter Robert Costa interjected that Cruz had shown some humanity with an anecdote about his sister’s fatal struggle with drug addiction at the last GOP debate, an anecdote dismissed out of hand by Matthews.
"Somebody just asked him about addiction, and he of course had a family experience with it. That doesn't show anything," Matthews said.
After Scarborough explained Cruz’s appeal to Republicans fed up with the national party, Matthews brought up Cruz’s criticism of former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, calling it "McCarthyite" and adding Cruz’s supporters were "really sad" for liking him.
Scarborough offered a tepid defense of Cruz, saying he was not the only demagogue in Washington, D.C. Matthews responded he couldn't believe Scarborough was defending Cruz. Matthews later invoked Cruz’s Cuban heritage again by suggesting he views Obama as a Fidel Castro-like figure.
"The reason I'm tough on him is I sense in him a darkness, a virulent antipathy toward Obama that almost sees Obama as Castro, as a dictator of the Left," Matthews said. "The vicious anger of him, I think it’s for real. It scares me. It’s so menacing."
Matthews said he did not understand Cruz’s support among Baptists in New Hampshire. He speculated that Cruz might be a theocrat.
"What is he, a theocrat? Maybe he is," Matthews said.
If Cruz won, Matthews added laughing, "a darkness will come over America."
Matthews has used racially charged language in the past about Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), language he has apologized for.