MSNBC's Chris Matthews weighed in on Monday night's Republican primary debate and said that, according to him, GOP candidate Newt Gingrich might have spoken in racial code during key moments of the debate.
Matthews was referring to an exchange between Gingrich and Fox News political analyst and debate co-moderator, Juan Williams. Williams asked Gingrich to discuss previous comments he made about individuals on welfare, which some have considered to be racially charged.
Williams asked Gingrich if he could see how those comments could be viewed as "belittling people." Gingrich disagreed with Williams and staunchly defended himself. He also answered Williams' question by referring to him as "Juan." The lively debate crowd grew particularly rowdy during this exchange, in support of Gingrich.
On Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC show on Tuesday, Matthews discussed what he believed were Gingrich's motives during that moment of the debate. Matthews said, " "Well, we know what is going on. And the people that don't hear it don't want to hear it. You cannot argue a person into it. You cannot tell a person that is code, because the people that don't want to hear that it's code will say it's not and the people that clearly hear that it's code will."
Matthews seemed to focus on the way Gingrich said Williams' first name, Juan. Matthews said that the way Gingrich said it was "interesting" and deliberate.
"That use of the name ‘Juan,’ the way he does it. You can’t argue these things. You either see it or you don’t. It’s just the way he did that. I sensed a little applause when he said ‘Let me help you,’ when he answered the Juan question. It’s in the eye of the beholder. And, by the way, calling someone a racist is the worst way to get them to stop being a racist because everyone gets defensive…So it’s stupid to say it but, if you notice it, you sort of ought to blow the whistle. Because there is a dog whistle going on here in a lot of cases, and you have to deal with it."
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