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Matthews zings scrappy political tune

Washington insider Chris Matthews brought his big bat with him Tuesday to Daemen College as he took on Republicans, Donald Trump and even poked fun at Democrats.

The host of "Hardball With Christ Matthews" on MSNBC was the keynote speaker for the college's Academic Festival.

After broadcasting his nightly TV show live from the local YNN studios in downtown Buffalo, Matthews arrived at the Wick Center on the Snyder campus just a tad late, but to thunderous applause.

"I'm trying to figure out the crazy Republican Party today. I mean, really loony-tune," Matthews said, launching into his schtick.

"You know, if I had told you two weeks ago that Donald Trump was going to be the top guy in the [GOP presidential] polls, you'd have said, 'Are you crazy?' No, the Republicans are crazy," Matthews added.

For weeks now, the self-described conservative Democrat has been having fun with the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star's unorthodox bid for the U.S. presidency and, in particular, Trump's new alliance with those in the GOP who are vocal in their skepticism of President Obama's birth status. For short, they're typically referred to as "birthers."

"It's a certain kind of ideology that says, 'I believe anything bad about a guy I don't like,' and so that's what [Trump] is playing to. He's basically been willing to say things that anybody who really expects to be president isn't going to say. That's the genius," said Matthews.

But according to Matthews, Trump may have boxed himself into a corner if he is, indeed, a serious candidate, because it undermines his credibility with the mainstream wing of the Republican Party. But Trump is unlikely to quit, Matthews said.

"That's the mistake he made here -- he has no exit strategy," Matthews added.

A political junkie since he was 7 years old growing up in Philadelphia, Matthews said he has long been a keen observer of the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

"Between 1952, when I first started paying attention to politics, and 1972, which is 20 years, Richard Nixon was on the Republican national ticket every election but one. That's patience. That's loyalty. That's Republicans. They stick to you once they've got you. Democrats kill their wounded," Matthews said.

He is also an unabashed supporter of President Obama, who -- despite the president's academic pedigree and gifts as a speaker and political strategist -- is lucky, Matthews said.

"He gets to be a U.S. senator by beating Alan Keyes," Matthews said, referring to the radio talk show host and perennial conservative candidate. "I mean, is that fair? Is there some standard of fairness? Anyway, he's lucky."

"Then he runs against John McCain on his downhill slope. I mean, he didn't run against the John McCain of 2000. He didn't run against the guy from the straight-talk express. He ran against the guy who had already been beaten, badgered, mugged and destroyed by the Bush crowd," Matthews added.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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