Chris Matthews thinks House Speaker John Boehner needs to be respected by Democrats and President Barack Obama. But Sen. Mitch McConnell does not deserve such respect.
"I don't think you need to respect McConnell," Matthews, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball," said at the Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday. "McConnell is a tree stump on the lawn you want to cut—you really just want to haul it out of there."
McConnell, the longest-serving senator in Kentucky history, has consistently refused to compromise with those across the aisle, Matthews said, spending the bulk of the past four years trying to get Obama out of office.
"Opposition has to mean we don't disagree on everything," Matthews said. "You look for areas of agreement. Don't you want to agree?"
Matthews, assessing what Obama's re-election means for both parties, was critical of the divisive comments reportedly made by Mitt Romney on Wednesday during a conference call with donors. The former Republican presidential nominee said Obama won the 2012 election because of "gifts" the Obama campaign had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during his first term.
"It's tribalist," Matthews said. "I thought it was going to end at the campaign."
Matthews said presidential elections are "national mandates," and the GOP needs to respect the electorate. "Don't go back and pretend the election didn't happen," he said.
But the progressive talker admitted he's glad we're discussing Obama's second term—and not Romney's first.
"We'd be talking about John Bolton heading to the State Department, God help us," Matthews said. "John Sununu heading to the Vatican ... and 'self-deportation' would be the name of our immigration reform."