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Chris Matthews: Gingrich 'Looks Like a Car Bomber'

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FILE - In a Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. Republican officials say Gingrich intends to take a formal step in the next two weeks toward a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The officials say an announcement is likely in the first half of March. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (AP2011)

Newt Gingrich has been called a lot of things. But "car bomber" might be a new one. 

As the former House speaker lays the groundwork this week for a possible presidential bid, MSNBC's Chris Matthews used his Wednesday edition of "Hardball" to explain why he doesn't trust Gingrich's face. 

"He looks like a car bomber, he looks like a car bomber ... he looks like a car bomber," Matthews said, interjecting when Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page suggested Gingrich might just have the stuff to win the Republican nomination. 

Matthews continued: "He's got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy. This is not the face of a president." 

The comments were aired a day before Gingrich unveiled a new website on which he will begin raising money to test whether a bid for president is feasible. Fox News announced Wednesday that it was suspending its contributor arrangement with Gingrich while he weighs his political plans. 

Matthews, who is known for shaking up the discussion of his panelists with the occasional off-color afterthought, raised questions about how Gingrich would be able to surmount questions about his past and the conditions surrounding his resignation from the House and speakership after the 1998 elections. But after three times comparing Gingrich to a car bomber, Matthews revisited his own reference. He partially retracted it, then elaborated on it. 

"This car bomber reference is very clear to me," Matthews opined. "I had this notion of a guy, it's obviously not a car bomber, but this guy that's kind of like, he loves the attack. He gets a thrill, Clarence, out of going for the opponent's midsection and hitting him so hard and getting delight in the attack itself."