Anti-Trump Sentiment Surprises MSNBC’s Matthews

May 17, 2019 GMT

HANOVER TWP. — Before a live broadcast of the MSNBC TV show Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked a crowd of about 200 how many of them voted for President Donald Trump.

A few people clapped, and Matthews’ jaw dropped, clearly expecting more Trump fans.

“How did this happen? I am stunned,” Matthews said to a few MSNBC workers before the live broadcast began at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The one-hour show was broadcast live from A. Rifkin Co., a family-owned manufacturing facility on the Sans Souci Parkway. It was a special event called “The Deciders.”

The show chose a location in Luzerne County because Trump’s victory margin in the county helped him become the first Republican presidential candidate to win Pennsylvania since 1988.


In the 2016 election, Trump crushed Democrat Hillary Clinton by a massive margin of 78,688 to 52,451 in Luzerne County. President Barack Obama — the Democratic nominee in 2008 and 2012 — won the Luzerne County vote both times.

When the broadcast began, the crowd heard Trump’s voice saying “I love Wilkes-Barre.” The immediate response was loud boos and groans.

Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican from Hazleton, was there to defend the president, and that didn’t please others there.

“Yeah, I like it. I enjoy that. You need to have that opposite voice. That’s what makes these interesting, so I didn’t want to turn down the opportunity,” Barletta said shortly after the show wrapped up.


“Well it was MSNBC. I pretty well knew what I was getting myself into,” Barletta added. “The fact that Luzerne County was so pivotal in Donald Trump becoming president, I was afraid if I wasn’t here, you may not have heard that message.”

Barletta sat next to Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“I want to thank all of you for your honesty because I came here, and unfortunately the RNC chair didn’t, even though she was invited, because it’s important to listen and learn,” Perez said.

Vito DeLuca, a prominent attorney in the county, was the first person Matthews interviewed. He explained why he voted for Obama in 2012 and for Trump in 2016.

“I wanted someone who would take a different approach to government,” DeLuca told Matthews.

The host also interviewed Lynette Villano, a West Pittston Republican committeewoman who was elected as a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican convention and backed Trump early in the primary election process.

“Does he make you proud to be an American?” Matthews asked.


“Absolutely. Absolutely. More and more ever day,” Villano replied, as the crowd erupted with more boos and more groans.

“Of course the audience was a little stacked. That was apparent,” Villano said after the show. “But for the 150 people in the room who may be against Trump, I’ll go with the 29,000 (more) who voted for him the last time in Luzerne County. And believe me the reason they voted for him before is the reason they’re going to vote for him again. So I am as energized as I ever was.”

Robert Bresnahan Jr., a Shavertown resident and chief executive officer of Kuharchik Construction Inc., said Trump in 2016 “provided a refuge for that middle of the road voter and for the working blue-collar person who sits at their family table and decides whether or not they are going to pay for gas for their vehicle or if they are going to pay mortgage or taxes on their house.”

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