THE BLOG
01/10/2011 07:10 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hardball: Tea Party Under Fire Over Arizona Tragedy

Below is the video and transcript of my interview with Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation.

"If people on the right and Sarah Palin and so forth are responsible for all of this and this vitriolic rhetoric is so pitched, how come this isn't happening every day? Why is it the vast exception to the rule? There's no logic in any of the assertions they're making. None."

Chris Matthews: That was Rush Limbaugh responding to the Giffords shooting and overheated rhetoric swirling around. How does the Tea Party fall into the angry political discourse? Joining us now, Judd Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation. When you first heard about the incident, what was your reaction?

Judson Phillips: I was stunned. It was unbelievable that a member of congress would be shot in America. It happens this third world countries, not America. We have open and easy access to our leaders, we go to meetings with them all the time. I was stunned that a member of Congress was shot.

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We've certainly grown up as you have and I have in this country... no country in the world has not had as many leaders assassinated. We had a period where people were getting killed all over the place. We had Ronald Reagan almost killed, except he got to the hospital within three minutes. Ford shot at twice. Truman almost killed by Puerto Rican nationalist. The mayor of Chicago got hit. Roosevelt got shot in the chest. I don't know how you haven't noticed it.

You think about it. In this generation --

Oh, I've been thinking about it. Neither a country in the world with a list like that. Mexico, Canada. Not a country in in world that's had the assassination. Make a list.

I disagree.

You disagree with what part of what I said?

That's there not another country in the world --

Name one. Assassination of its leaders.

Give me a chance to take a look. This is a pop quiz kind of question here. Within the last what I would call generation, Reagan was the last president that there was a series assassination attempt on and John F. Kennedy was a last president who was assassinated. This was 50 years ago.

Yes, but we had Jerry Ford Shot. Twice they tried to kill Truman. All the guys killed in the '60s. George Wallace would have been killed except he got medical attention. We have a record of this. But to the current cases. Are you disturbed when people bring guns to political rallies?

You know, at the political rallies I have been at, I haven't seen them.

These guys on the show, they flaunt them. They have them in holsters, they stand on our show and defend them. Sarah Palin using gun play language, crosshairs and gun loading, Bachmann out there with her kind of talk. It seems like the way people talk now has gotten more ballistic, gotten to do with guns when it has nothing to do with second amendment issues. I understand that. But people bring it up totally irregardless. Why?

Guns are talked about on both sides of the political spectrum.

They are?

Liberals talk about it all the time.

But why bring it up when it's not about the right to bear arms.

Well, again, it's brought up on both sides.

It is?

It is.

When has a liberal brought up the discussion using guns against political opponents?

You talked about Sarah Palin and there's the famous crosshairs diagram. I don't think Sarah Palin has ever talked about taking a gun and shooting a political opponent. I don't know a conservative leader who has talked about taking a gun out and going to shoot their political opponent.

Let's go to Sharron Angle, who just lost the race in Nevada. You probably supported her. She talked about "second amendment remedies". What is a second amendment remedy? You keep throwing your hands in the air, you act like you don't even -- you question the history I've given to you, say there must be some other country with more assassinations. I'll give you three years, and you won't come up with one. I'm asking you, are you concerned that people bring guns to political rallies. Yes or no?

No, I'm not.

Why would a person bring a gun to a political rally?

Because they have the right to.

"Because they have the right to"? Give me the reason why you'd do it.

You'd carry a gun for safety. Just like you do for any other thing. I was at a political rally in arizona a few months ago. People open carry out there. I felt perfectly safe.

They bring these guns to make a political statement. They have told us that on the air. They bring it to make a statement against the political people in this country they don't like and they use it as a threat. They say we've got our second amendment pr amendment privileges. Do you think it would be better if people didn't bring guns to political events?

I would rather people not carry guns in occasions where you might get tempers flaring. As far as just a general political rally, I don't have a problem with it.

We disagree.

We do.

I think if you think through it, you'll recognize the fact that gun play didn't fit with politics and I don't where it should fit. That's my view. You disagree. Thank you.

Thank you.