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updated: 7/21/2011 10:58 PM

Walsh: No regrets over "Hardball" tussle

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  • MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, and Eighth Illinois District Rep. Joe Walsh.

       MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, and Eighth Illinois District Rep. Joe Walsh.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Joe Walsh on "Hardball"

 
By Kerry Lester
klester@dailyherald.com

In his seven months on the job, 8th District Rep. Joe Walsh hasn't been shy about speaking his mind through the media.

But nothing, perhaps, has garnered as much publicity as a heated exchange over the debt ceiling debate with MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews Tuesday, a video which has gone viral over the past 24 hours.

"With all that's going on (in Washington) today, all people wanted to talk about was the Matthews interview," Walsh said Wednesday in a phone interview.

The 11-minute show segment, shot from the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building, escalated to a verbal brawl quickly.

Matthews asked Walsh why Republican-backed legislation adding a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution doesn't mention any specific cuts, a key GOP critique of the Obama administration's debt ceiling plan.

"Hey Chris, hey Chris, hey Chris," Walsh shouts repeatedly. "Try one at a time," he tells the host.

After Matthews suggested the president's request -- to raise the debt ceiling without such a Constitutional amendment -- is a reasonable one, Walsh told Matthews that "your president, who sends a tingle up your leg ... has not been serious about this debt crisis."

Matthews asked if Walsh would resign from office if the country is hit by a debt ceiling crisis in August, a question Walsh called "silly."

Walsh then called Matthews a "bully."

The interview ended when Matthews invited Walsh to come back on the show, and Walsh replied, "You need to be more objective but I love it, Chris."

Walsh said Wednesday he didn't regret any of his words.

"I guess I was disappointed that it got so kind of out of hand, but that's sort of how he is. What you can't do with a bully is back down," he said.

"A lot of people on my side of the aisle don't like to go on shows like that. I don't mind it at all and in fact, I find it often more interesting than going on friendly shows."

Walsh said the reaction from his peers has been largely positive.

"I've even had a few Democrats come up to me and quietly say 'way to go'. ... I haven't gotten any word from leadership." There are 87 Republican freshman. I've probably been one of the more vocal out there. (They) recognize each one of their guys and gals bring a strength to the table."

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