MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews famously said during the 2008 presidential election that listening to Barack Obama, he “felt this thrill running up my leg. I don’t have that too often.”

Now, perhaps, he’s topped that statement, referring to the campaign of GOP hopeful Mitt Romney as the “grand wizard crowd.”

Grand wizard is a title used by the Ku Klux Klan.

Another MSNBC commentator, Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman, immediately pushed back, saying, “Don’t go there with me.”

The video has been posted online by Accuracy in Media, and also includes a slap by Matthews at Romney’s crowd as “those birthers.”

Matthews was criticizing what he alleged was Romney’s position changes on issues.

“It used to be you could go down to Louisiana, you could travel around before there was videotape, before there was really reporting. And one crowd you could say I’m Roman Catholic, a Roman Catholic grand-pappy. And you could do the Protestant grand-pappy and nobody was keeping score because it depended on what town you’re in,” he said.

“Now we have videotape. We can throw it up there. The Democrats can do it, right?”

Then he targeted Romney. “How does this guy go from hard right, severely conservative, to this new regular mainstream character he’s portraying himself as. How can he do it with tape?”

Steele said, “First of all you’re making the assumption that there’s something wrong with being conservative, that conservatism is not going to win the day, the argument this fall and I think it still can. It won in 2010…”

Said Matthews, “He said there’s no such thing as science. He doesn’t really believe. How can you say you go from flat-earth to round. How can he go from flat-earth I don’t believe in evolution to all of a sudden I’m teaching biology?”

“That’s not what he said. Why are you putting those words in his mouth,” said Steele. “He didn’t say he’s a flat-earther, he doesn’t believe in evolution. Those are your words, Chris, and that’s how you would like to paint him to be.

“That’s not who he is. Romney will paint his own picture,” Steele said.

“Where’s he on science?” challenged Matthews.

“Ask him. I don’t know. It wasn’t an issue in the primary,” said Steele.

“Let’s go…,” started Matthews. He added a word or two under his breath, then said, “The grand wizard crowd over there.”

“I resent that. Now what is this grand wizard nonsense. Are you saying we’re Ku Klux Klan? Give me a break. Don’t go there with me,” said Steele.

“OK. Good. Thank you,” Matthews said. “There’s none of those problems out there. There’s all those birthers out there.”

See Matthews at work:

Just a few weeks ago, WND reported a Harris Interactive poll ranked top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh as the worst news personality in America, with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and CNN’s Nancy Grace on his heels.

Sean Hannity, Katie Couric and Piers Morgan were next in line among the least favorites, with Barbara Walters, Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Wolf Blitzer rounding out the top 10.

The Harris poll is somewhat at odds with a Wenzel poll last summer in which 56 percent said Limbaugh is doing an excellent, good or fair job, while only 28 percent said his performance was poor. Fifteen percent had no opinion. More than 51 percent said his work is very helpful or somewhat helpful to the nation, while 34 percent said he was very harmful or somewhat harmful. Again, 15 percent held no opinion.

“Even among the very liberal, 42 percent said he was helpful to America,” said Fritz Wenzel, president of Wenzel Strategies at the time. “There is a significant gender gap for Limbaugh, as 59 percent of all men considered him helpful to America, just 43 percent of women agreed. That said, more women than not agreed that Limbaugh is helpful to America – just 38 percent of women said he was harmful, while 19 percent were not sure.”

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