Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus described MSNBC's Chris Matthews as "unhinged' and "hysterical" when Matthews accused Priebus of playing the race card three days earlier.

Priebus's comments came a few days after a heated exchange with Matthews on Monday in which the "Hardball" host said a Mitt Romney joke about his birthplace — presumably alluding to a conspiracy theory that President Obama had not been born in the United States — was meant to provoke racist sentiments. Matthews and Priebus quickly got into an argument after Matthews said the comment by Romney was awful.

"My reaction as it was happening is that 'OK, Chris Matthews is just trying to make a scene for his brand and his own show,' " Priebus said in an interview with America's Radio News on Thursday. "I mean, everyone watching that saw a guy that was unhinged, and he was acting bizarre.

"Why would I put all the focus on me during the week of the convention and jump in the ditch with someone who was hysterical?"

The Obama campaign quickly responded to Romney's joke by releasing a Web video called "America doesn't need a birther-in-chief." Romney also denied that his joke had anything to do with the president's birth certificate. His campaign also said the former Massachusetts governor did not think Obama was not born in the United States.