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Chris Matthews: Obama 'Won This Fight Over Health Care' and 'Will Not Give Up His Baby'

Appearing on Tuesday's NBC Today, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews dismissed Republican attempts to delay ObamaCare as a futile effort: "The President was elected – reelected again. He won this fight over health care....the President will not give up his baby, and I think they know that. That's why this is a scary fight. They've gone to ask Obama to give them something he can't give them, which is his health care bill." [Listen to the audio]

Matthews also ranted about Republican members of Congress having strong political support in their districts: "230 congressional districts are Republican. They voted against this President, they voted for a Republican congressmen. Those congress people, men and women, can't be defeated on this issue. They know they can fight to the death on this....[the President] can't stop those people because they're unbeatable in their districts."

That prompted co-host Savannah Guthrie to wonder: "In other words, these Republicans who are saying shut down the government are not gonna pay a price for it in their own electoral fortunes. What about the Republican Party as a larger issue?"

Referring to a previous segment with CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Matthews replied: "That's the question. And that's why Wall Street's worried, why people like Cramer are worried, because they have – [the Republican Party is] the business party. I'm not knocking it. But they've historically looked out for Wall Street and big business. And in this case, big business is scared to death of what's coming in two weeks. If this debt isn't paid, the United States is a deadbeat."

In that prior segment, Cramer engaged in fearmongering over the shutdown: "Everyone's always worried about their paycheck, people get scared. They think, 'Well, wait a second, maybe my business is going to get hurt.' So it's more than just convenience and inconvenience. This is about people thinking, 'Well, if their paychecks aren't coming, maybe my paycheck won't come.'"

Co-host Matt Lauer teed up Cramer to decry opposition to ObamaCare contributing to the budget showdown: "...you've been talking to a lot of CEOs. These are the people who are running these companies that are gonna deal with this new health care law. Are they saying to you that they think it was worth shutting down the government over this health care?"

Cramer declared: "No, not at all. They've all pretty much gotten used to it. They've all figured out how to have the paychecks adjusted. They don't like it, but they figure, hey, listen, if it doesn't do well, they'll readjust. I don't know any CEO that thinks this is right."

Wrapping up the exchange with Matthews minutes later, Guthrie raised the possibility of Democrats sharing blame for the shutdown, almost as an afterthought: "What part does Democrats own of this? I mean, people have said the President did not negotiate." It was at that point that Matthews referred to ObamaCare as the President's "baby," even making a biblical reference: "King Soloman said you don't cut the baby in half if you're the mother."

At no point in Tuesday's coverage on Today was a Republican or conservative guest featured to discuss the shutdown.

Here is a full transcript of the October 1 exchange between Guthrie and Matthews:

7:08AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, the finger pointing on this began long before the shutdown. So which side of the political aisle is going to get most of the blame this morning? Chris Matthews is host of MSNBC's Hardball, author of the new book, Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked. A timely title. Chris, good morning to you.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yeah, this morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Political Stalemate; Both Sides Point Fingers in Gov't Shutdown]

GUTHRIE: Do you think that this will go on longer than a few days, maybe even weeks?

MATTHEWS: Yeah, this is a fight to the kill. I think Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, brilliantly set this up. The timing, no appropriations bill signed, so the government has to completely shut down. He said the budget committee shouldn't even meet, so this is a fight to the kill. It's gonna, as Jim [Cramer] said, it's going into the debt ceiling issue. It's a one-two punch. Politicians used to make deals, I think they don't want to make a deal this time.

GUTHRIE: Isn't the issue who ends up feeling most of the heat? Which party feels most of the blame? And that will ultimately lead to a resolution here?

MATTHEWS: Our electoral system has set this up in a way. 230 congressional districts are Republican. They voted against this President, they voted for a Republican congressmen. Those congress people, men and women, can't be defeated on this issue. They know they can fight to the death on this. This is what's weird. The President was elected – reelected again. He won this fight over health care. But he can't stop those people because they're unbeatable in their districts. So Boehner's the one that's gonna take the heat.

GUTHRIE: In other words, these Republicans who are saying shut down the government are not gonna pay a price for it in their own electoral fortunes. What about the Republican Party as a larger issue?

MATTHEWS: That's the question. And that's why Wall Street's worried, why people like Cramer are worried, because they have – it's the business party. I'm not knocking it. But they've historically looked out for Wall Street and big business. And in this case, big business is scared to death of what's coming in two weeks. If this debt isn't paid, the United States is a deadbeat.

GUTHRIE: What part does Democrats own of this? I mean, people have said the President did not negotiate.

MATTHEWS: When you go for somebody's baby, they don't negotiate over the baby. King Soloman said you don't cut the baby in half if you're the mother. And the President will not give up his baby, and I think they know that. That's why this is a scary fight. They've gone to ask Obama to give them something he can't give them, which is his health care bill.

GUTHRIE: Well, Chris Matthews, always great to get your perspective. Your book, Tip and The Gipper, a timely tome at this moment.

MATTHEWS: When things used to work.

GUTHRIE: Yes. Chris, thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

GUTHRIE: You can see you on Hardball tonight.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.