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Chris Matthews Continues Tantrum Over Romney's 'Etch-A-Sketch' Debate Performance

Picking up where he left off Wednesday night, on Thursday's NBC Today, MSNBC's Chris Matthews continued to whine over President Obama's poor debate performance and ranted that Mitt Romney has "been accused of etch-a-sketch, last night was his greatest achievement. Everything he said within days ago, he's ignored." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Prior to Matthews' appearance, co-host Savannah Guthrie noted that he had been "very vocal" during MSNBC's post-debate coverage and played a sound bite of the Hardball host blasting Obama: "I don't know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. I don't know how he let Romney get away with the crap he threw out tonight about Social Security. Where was Obama tonight?!"

Guthrie simply asked Matthews: "What do you think happened?" Matthews complained:

Well, the way the President handled it was just not up to the task....Romney was able to talk about things like funding for PBS and never had to explain his position supporting bankruptcy for the American auto industry. Obama rescued the American auto industry, our largest industrial industry, it never came up....The 47%, he let Romney come out there as a guy who cared about people on Social Security....he says these people were all moochers and bums....How did the President let him get away with point after point after point?

During post-debate coverage on NBC, reporters similarly wrung their hands over Obama not attacking Romney on the 47 percent comment.

In his bitterness, Matthews attacked debate moderator Jim Lehrer: "[Obama] had to be both the moderator, which wasn't really being done by anybody else, and the fact-checker."

Matthews did manage to compliment Romney: "I thought Romney was excellent with his civility, his respect for the office of the president. I think he handled it beautifully."

Here is a full transcript of the October 4 segment:

7:15AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, MSNBC's Chris Matthews was very vocal about President Obama's performance following the debate. Here's just some of what he had to say:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Certainly there was no Bobby Kennedy in the green room before Barack Obama came out tonight. I don't know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. I don't know how he let Romney get away with the crap he threw out tonight about Social Security. Where was Obama tonight?!

GUTHRIE: And Chris Matthews joins us now. Chris, really, tell us how you really feel. You're a supporter of President Obama. What do you think happened?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Round One; Chris Matthews Fired Up Over Presidential Debate]

MATTHEWS: Yeah. Well, the way the President handled it was just not up to the task. Romney was able to talk about things like funding for PBS and never had to explain his position supporting bankruptcy for the American auto industry. Obama rescued the American auto industry, our largest industrial industry, it never came up. Why didn't he talk about his position versus the other guy's?

On the very heart of the Romney economic plan, which is this tax cut, why didn't he insist on the deductions? Where are these huge deductions? They're not details, the President called them. They're not loopholes, they're mortgages, they're charitable deductions, they're state and local. Huge issues at the very heart of the Romney economic plan.

The 47%, he let Romney come out there as a guy who cared about people on Social Security. He's on the record with his fundraisers, where you pay $50,000 to hear what he really thinks, as using your phrase. And he says these people were all moochers and bums.

I mean, on health care, four or five times he slipped away. Romney in recent days has said if you have a health problem and you're poor and you live in an apartment, as he put it, we won't let you die there, you're going to go to the emergency room. That is the Romney economic plan – health care plan.

So at each point – he said on pre-existing conditions, only if you have continuing coverage, he's not for that. And then he said, "I'm going to take the principles of Massachusetts and apply them there, nationally."

DAVID GREGORY: Yeah, Chris-

MATTHEWS: The principle of Massachusetts, David, is individual mandate. How did the President let him get away with point after point after point?

GREGORY: Chris, this reminded me a lot of Bush/Kerry in '04, where an incumbent president came in, seemed to be underprepared. Do you think it was that? Or do you think that the President deliberately didn't want to be as feisty as he saw in his challenger?

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he had to be both the moderator, which wasn't really being done by anybody else, and the fact-checker. He had to get point by point. He could've done it like a gentleman. I thought Romney was excellent with his civility, his respect for the office of the president. I think he handled it beautifully. I think the President could have done the same thing and sliced through all the claims by Romney. Romney's been accused of etch-a-sketch, last night was his greatest achievement. Everything he said within days ago, he's ignored.

GREGORY: Alright, Chris Matthews, thank you very much for getting up early after a long night in Denver.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.