MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Wednesday found sinister "neocon" undertones in President Donald Trump's reference to the Iranian "regime," even though Democrats often use the term for the country's theocratic government.
"In terms of the rhetoric, though, the rhetoric was perfectly foisted into this speech, clearly by Mike Pence and the neocons. The word ‘regime' used over and over again is a word setting up regime change," Matthews said. "In other words, all the pressure we're putting on that country is to get rid of the Ayatollah … and the whole religious network that runs that country."
Matthews also pinned Trump's use of the word "regime" on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling the term "fighting words."
Prominent Democrats, including current and former presidential candidates, have frequently referred to the Iranian "regime" in recent interviews.
South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg referred to the "dangerous regime" in an interview Monday on MSNBC, while former vice president Joe Biden said Tuesday that he had no illusions about the support for terror and other malign actions of the "regime."
Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said Iran had become a more dangerous "regime" during the Trump administration, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who dropped out of the presidential race last year, said the "Iranian regime is horrible" in an interview Friday.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) slammed Trump Tuesday on MSNBC for having achieved the "end goals of the Iranian regime." Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) told CNN Wednesday that Iranian general Qassem Soleimani had worked his way up to be the number two man in Iran's "regime." Rep. Jason Crow (D., Colo.) on MSNBC Wednesday lamented the crowds of people showing up in support of the "regime" in Tehran following Soleimani's death.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) slammed the "malignant regime" of Iran Tuesday on MSNBC, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.) said Friday that Soleimani's significance to the "Iranian regime" would necessitate a response from it.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), and Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.) have also made references to the "Iranian regime" over the past year.
Members of the press also regularly use the term "Iranian regime," including Matthews's MSNBC colleague Joe Scarborough.
Trump spoke at the White House on Wednesday, a day after Iran fired missiles at U.S. troops in Iraq, retaliating against the killing of Soleimani. The strike resulted in no casualties. Announcing new sanctions, Trump said it appeared Iran was standing down from further military action.