Roger Simon, Politico's top columnist, smeared the audience of Monday night's GOP debate, warning of a "kind of blood lust in the air" after the crowd booed a question of Juan Williams, an African American.
Appearing on Tuesday's Hardball, Simon sneered at "that audience, with that kind of blood lust in the air, an audience that was way over the line, way over the top." [MP3 audio here .]
He added that Gingrich was "playing a dangerous game by playing to the audience and baiting people, appealing to their worst instincts, instead of their better instincts." Chris Matthews piled on, insisting there was a "Birth of a Nation" aspect to the audience after a Rick Perry comment.
Republican strategist Ron Christie appeared to deride Simon's original point, that Newt Gingrich's response to a Juan Williams question could be seen as racist.
Christie attacked, "Just because Juan happened to be black, I don't think that the speaker was trying to bait him or bait the audience based on the color of Juan Williams' skin. I just entirely dismiss that."
A transcript of the January 17th exchanges follows:
JUAN WILLIAMS: My e-mail account, my Twitter account has been inundated of people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities. We saw some of this reaction to a visit to a black church in South Carolina.  It sounds as if you're seeking to belittle people. [Booes.]
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Roger?
ROGER SIMON: This is not Newt Gingrich being clumsy. This is Newt Gingrich being arrogant, condescending, and dismissive. The only thing you can say in his favor is that he's arrogant, condescending and dismissive to a lot of people, white and black. But in that audience, with that kind of blood lust in the air, an audience that was way over the line, way over the top, Gingrich was playing a dangerous game by playing to the audience and baiting people, appealing to their worst instincts, instead of their better instincts.
RON CHRISTIE: What do you mean by that? I mean, there's no question you have a very conservative audience, but you say it's very dangerous. It's blood lust. Look, Juan Williams is a mentor of mine. He is a friend of mine. He can take care of himself. I think he legitimately asked a question. You have seen Speaker Gingrich be very arrogant and condescending to other moderators. You have seen some of the other Republicans be dismissive of the moderators. Just because Juan happened to be black, I don't think that the speaker was trying to bait him or bait the audience based on the color of Juan Williams' skin. I just entirely dismiss that.
RICK PERRY: I'm saying also that the state of Texas is under assault by federal government and this administration. I'm saying also that south carolina is at war with this federal government and with this administration.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know, there's a 'Birth of a Nation' aspect to that. I can't even start with that. Voting rights- War with- This sounds like 'Gone With the Wind.' What's he talking about? War with? .What are we talking about here?