Matthews says Obama's running mate should be "[s]omeone who's palpably patriotic," calls women voters "low-hanging fruit"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

MSNBC's Chris Matthews said that Sen. Barack Obama should pick as his running mate "[s]omeone who's palpably patriotic, who sort of exudes it." Also, referring to Sen. John McCain's 6-percentage-point advantage over Obama among suburban white women in a recent poll, Matthews asserted, "[W]omen are low-hanging fruit, though, in the terms of politics. You can reach up and say, 'I'm pro-choice, he's not.' "

A week after saying that "it's a hard thing for someone like [Sen.] Barack Obama" to express a "gut sense of Americanism," MSNBC host Chris Matthews said that Obama should pick as his running mate "[s]omeone who's palpably patriotic, who sort of exudes it." Matthews was commenting on NBC political director Chuck Todd's assertion that "[i]f you figure out a way to pick a running mate, for instance, that passes that character test, it's -- say it's a Joe Biden or somebody in a military uniform that has a whole bunch of ribbons, that gives you that security, that gives these men saying, you know what, I'm not sure about Obama, but, you know what? He's got somebody there."

The exchange took place on the June 11 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, during which Matthews hosted Todd to discuss an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released that day. Referring to Sen. John McCain's 6-percentage-point advantage among suburban white women in the poll (Obama leads among women overall, 52-33), Matthews asserted, "[W]omen are low-hanging fruit, though, in the terms of politics. You can reach up and say, 'I'm pro-choice, he's not.' " He then added, "But you're playing for a close election. If you want to reach up for the higher, for the harder ones to reach, you can win big." Matthews' comment about women voters recalled generalizations Matthews has made about other constituencies. On the April 16 edition of Hardball, Matthews said, "[I]f you're a Jewish voter probably you care about Israel, that's a safe bet. You have one key concern. " He continued, "I can't think of other groups that would make it that simple. But clearly, if you're African-American, you care about civil rights. You care about certain programs of the federal government. That's a generalization, but probably true. You're more progressive."

Of the NBC/Journal poll's finding that McCain leads Obama among white men, Matthews asked Todd, "Is their concern with Obama that he's more an elitist or that he's African-American? Is there any way to distinguish that?" Todd responded, "You can't distinguish between it."

Todd then repeated a claim that Matthews made the previous week and that Obama directly rebuts in his autobiography -- that Obama has never been in the middle class. Todd asserted, "The values question, I think, takes it -- that, you know, goes to what you, I think, have put very eloquently, when you say, you know, Obama does well with rich and poor because he's been both, but he's never been anything in between and he's not connecting on that in-between with these folks." On June 3, Matthews said of Obama: "He's gone from being a poor kid, growing up in Hawaii, in Indonesia, part of his youth, mixed family background, had to struggle, worked with community organizations; went to these incredibly elite schools, Columbia and Harvard Law, making Law Review and all that. He missed the middle part." However, as Media Matters for America noted following Matthews' June 3 remarks, Obama makes clear in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Crown, 1995) that he has life experience in the middle class.

As Media Matters noted, on June 10 Matthews asked if Obama is "too University of Chicago or too South Side Chicago" for working-class voters. On April 1, Matthews asked Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): "Let me ask you about how he -- how's he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?"

From the June 11 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Why do men tend -- let's go to this men question here. Among white men, here we go, really breaking it down, McCain's killing Obama, 55-35. Your thoughts about that category?

TODD: Well, this is already at Bush levels. But what should really frustrate the Obama people is that these white men believe the country's headed in the wrong direction, believe the country -- that there should be a change president over sorta somebody that keeps things not necessarily status quo but smaller changes and security. They just - they don't like Obama. Obama's upside down. They don't believe Obama shares their values. They believe McCain shares their values.

MATTHEWS: Is their concern with Obama that he's more an elitist or that he's African-American? Is there any way to distinguish that?

TODD: You can't distinguish between it. The values question, I think, takes it -- that, you know, goes to what you, I think, have put very eloquently, when you say, you know, Obama does well with rich and poor because he's been both, but he's never been anything in between and he's not connecting on that in-between with these folks. So, I think when you look at this, and our experts, our pollsters said, boy they would worry about the suburban women thing. If they were Obama they'd worry about the suburban women thing first, before the men. They say, you know what? Hey, Bush won men by this much; you can still win it by losing men by that much. I'd argue and say if he slices men from 20 to 15, and you assume those women come home, then that's how he wins a big win. And he forces McCain to play defense.

MATTHEWS: But in a political [unintelligible], women are low-hanging fruit, though, in the terms of politics.

TODD: Correct.

MATTHEWS: You can reach up and say, "I'm pro-choice, he's not."

TODD: But you're playing for a close election.

MATTHEWS: But you're playing for a close election. If you want to reach up for the higher, for the harder ones to reach, you can win big.

TODD: And you can make the argument that if you figure out a way to pick a running mate, for instance, that passes that character test, it's -- say it's a Joe Biden or somebody in a military uniform that has a whole bunch of ribbons, that gives you that security, that gives these men saying, you know what, I'm not sure about Obama, but, you know what? He's got somebody there.

MATTHEWS: Someone who's palpably patriotic, who sort of exudes it.

TODD: It's not just patriotic, but exudes competence. I think there's a competence thing here that Obama has a threshold that Obama hasn't passed.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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