MSNBC host Chris Matthews called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) a "political terrorist" on Wednesday night's edition of "Hardball."
Cruz and a few other Tea Party senators have been trying to defund Obama's health care reform bill through a budget measure, though he admitted Wednesday that they do not currently have the votes to do so.
Matthews argued that Cruz has taken political obstruction to such destructive extremes that he deserves to be slapped with that label.
"I will say he's a terrorist because what the guy has done basically says my goal is demolition -- blow up health care, blow up the continuing resolution, bring the government to a standstill and then make us forfeit on the national debt," Matthews said.
His guests, on the other hand, bristled at the use of such a loaded word.
"I think he's a demagogue, I think he's irresponsible, but I think when we use the word terrorist we apply that to the Boston bombers, we apply that to the Sept. 11 hijackers," Republican political analyst Steve Schmidt said. "I'm not comfortable with the word, but he's clearly very irresponsible."
Matthews refused to back down from his rhetoric.
"The purpose of a terrorist, and they use different means obviously than blowing up bombs, is to cause chaos and to bring down a government because of the chaotic situation where nobody has any trust in institutions," he said.
"You tell me how that's not what he was trying to do here. Bring the government to default so it's not paying its bills. Stop the government from functioning and bring down bills that have created institutions like Obamacare that have already been decided upon -- blow them up after they were brought into law. Blow up the government's ability to pay bills it has already run up," Matthews continued. "If that's not causing chaos, what is it?"
The MSNBC host has had harsh words for Cruz before, saying that he behaved like Joseph McCarthy at Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing. Matthews also said that Cruz "fits in the tradition" of antisemitic radio host Father Charles Coughlin.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more