On Friday's edition of Hardball, host Chris Matthews confronts National Review representative Eliana Johnson over the magazine's strong stance against Donald Trump. Matthews says he has identified one factor that all 22 members of the "posse" of anti-Trump conservatives share: "Regime change is in their bloodstream."
The National Review has led the charge against Trump this week, devoting an entire issue to proving that Donald Trump is not their kind of conservative.
"These guys are all war hawks," he says. "That's why they don't like Trump, because he's the only guy on the right wing who said [Iraq] was a stupid war... Syria they want to go next. Regime change is in their bloodstream, and Trump is saying it is stupid for us to play that role. Isn't that what unites these people? Podhoretz, Kristol, Erickson? All these guys are hawks. And Donald Trump says no."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Rich Lowry supported the Iraq War. Kristol, he did too. These guys are all war hawks.
That's why they don't like Trump, because he's the only guy on the right wing who said it was a stupid war, we never should have fought it, and those peoples' hearts and souls was with that kind of war.
They want to go from Iraq, they want to go to Libya, which they've already done, and what's next?
Syria they want to go next. Regime change is in their bloodstream, and Trump is saying it is stupid for us to play that role. Isn't that what unites these people? Podhoertez, Kristol, Erickson? All these guys are hawks. And Donald Trump says no.
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL REVIEW: I actually don't think that this was about a single issue.
MATTHEWS: Why do they all agree? Why do they all agree on the war in Iraq?
JOHNSON: Just let me speak for a second.
MATTHEWS: No, no, answer my question.
JOHNSON: No, no, just let me speak.
I think this was about uniting conservatives of all different permutations--
MATTHEWS: But they're all the hawks?
JOHNSON: --who disagree on many issues, including the war in Iraq. They disagree on all different things, including the Iraq War.
MATTHEWS: Which one disagrees?
JOHNSON: It differentiates them from Donald Trump, a crasser sort of populism. And by the way Donald Trump supported the war in Iraq before he turned against it a couple of years ago.
MATTHEWS: Which one of the people in that group that is now in the posse against Trump is not a hawk, and is still a hawk?
Only I can ask the questions, would you answer me?
Which one is not a hawk in that group?
JOHNSON: I think all of them are hawks, but on what evidence do you say that the opposition to Trump is based on the Iraq War?
MATTHEWS: The evidence is every name on the list supported the Iraq War. And Trump said it was a mistake. That's all the evidence I need.
JOHNSON: Many of those people say the Iraq War was a mistake, just like Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Which one? Name one.
JOHNSON: Many of them!
MATTHEWS: Start with one name.
JOHNSON: A lot of them, Erick Erickson...
MATTHEWS: I have watched this petition organization stuff from Bill Kristol for twenty years. It's always a petition. It's always a group of people ganging up. A committee of this, he's always ont he list. So is Podhoretz. They're always on the list, they love lists, then they announce a list, and we're always supposed to go along with it. Sometimes it is a full page ad of lists, this whole method of politics, which is putting a list of people together and then saying we have to do this position.
JOHNSON: I would say it is you who is obsessed with the Iraq War, and not them.
MATTHEWS: Yeah. I am. I do, I am an American, and when America loses 4,000 lives in a war that should never have been fought, when we kill 100,000 people, put ourselves in a situation we will not get out of for years, yes it is an obsession. If that is what you want to call it.