Barbara Buono, known more widely as the woman Democrats put forward to run against Chris Christie after Cory Booker took a pass, is asked her first question early, before the cameras go live and the set falls silent for the countdown to air. The state senator is in Hardball's Washington studio for a national television interview — her third-ever — and a rare chance to get her name on the screen and into the living rooms of Chris Matthews' tens of thousands of MSNBC viewers.
But first — before any talk about New Jersey, where Buono has experience two-decades-deep in the state legislature — a query from the cable news vet, as his guest later recalled it:
"Can I say you’re attractive?" Matthews asks.
"No, you can’t," Buono remembers responding.
She slogged to Washington for this?
When the segment begins, the talk, as it often does, centers on Buono’s opponent — the popular, blustery incumbent Republican governor, whose approval rating hasn’t seen the other side of 60 percent since a hurricane swept up the Eastern seaboard and lay waste to parts of the state last October, after which the straight-talking Christie picked up the pieces and shame-on-you’d federal lawmakers when they wouldn’t vote on a funding relief bill before leaving the capitol for recess in January. New Jersey voters have been thanking him since.