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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics


The Louis J.  Gambaccini Civic Engagement Series -
Making Our Democracy a More Perfect Union: An Evening with Chris Matthews

Dionne at the podium
      Chris Matthews and Lou Gambaccini

In a wide-ranging conversation with Institute director Ruth B. Mandel, Hardball host Chris Matthews brought his trademark storytelling, strong opinions and sense of humor to Rutgers, regaling a packed house with his observations about politics and civic engagement. It is Matthews' belief that "If you believe in government, you've got the job of making it work," and he cited numerous instances of what has and hasn't worked in Washington. Many of his examples came from the relationship of former President Ronald Reagan and former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, the subjects of Matthews' recent book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. Touching on themes of the Gambaccini series, he owned up to being "inspired by politics and leadership – I get teary-eyed" and said "I respect anybody who has the guts to run for office."

Dionne with Ruth Mandel and Sue GambacciniDionne with Ruth Mandel and Sue Gambaccini
Student engages in a lively exchange with Matthews
E. J. Dionne
Chris Matthews with students and Ruth Mandel

About Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews is the host of Hardball on MSNBC. Matthews has followed American politics since the first Eisenhower campaign. After a stint in the Peace Corps in Africa, he worked as an aide in the US Senate, then as a presidential speechwriter. Later, he became a top aide to the legendary Speaker of the House, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr.

In the late 1980s, Matthews became a full-time journalist, serving as Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner. In this capacity he covered some of the great historic events of the late 20th century, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first all-races election in South Africa. He began his television career in 1994, hosting a two-hour nightly program on the NBC-owned America's Talking network. Three years later, he launched Hardball, now on MSNBC, naming the show after his best-selling handbook on real-life politics, published in 1988. Matthews is the author of six best-selling books. His most recent book, Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked,is a personal history of a time when two great political opponents served together for the benefit of the country.