"It is obvious that this is something I care passionately about: race was abused by white politicians in my lifetime, including Reagan. For someone to come on the program and deny that this is part of their process, I couldn't take that," Matthews said. "This is something I really, deeply believe in. We grew up in a country where appeals to race have been awful, terrible. This language -- we are beyond this. It had to be called out."
On today's edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Matthews told Priebus that Republican attacks on President Obama's welfare stance, as well as Mitt Romney's remark about his birth certificate, were evidence that the Republican party was playing "that little ethnic card... the race card," and called it an embarrassment to the party.
Matthews criticism, leveled with a remarkable emotional intensity, visibly rankled the show's co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. RNC spokesman Sean Spicer called it "outlandish." Priebus called it "garbage," and later charged Matthews with trying to be "the biggest jerk in the room." In an interview with Matthews Monday evening, Newt Gingrich charged Matthews with racism.
But Matthews told POLITICO that has received an outpouring of support -- from his bosses, who he says "agree with substance of what I said," and from fans in places as disparate as Mozambique and Jamaica.
"I have never heard -- never heard -- such a positive response," Matthews said. "The people I've met, globally, the people who have felt this, personally -- I've never got such a positive response."