Matthews on Obama's debate performance: "[D]id it surprise you that he was so un-ethnic tonight?"

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On MSNBC, Chris Matthews asserted that "we don't know who won this debate 'til we know how, to put it bluntly, the white working class guy, the regular working stiff out there, responds." He later asked Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson: "[D]id it surprise you that he [Obama] was so un-ethnic tonight?"

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During MSNBC's post-presidential debate coverage, host Chris Matthews asserted that "we don't know who won this debate 'til we know how, to put it bluntly, the white working class guy, the regular working stiff out there, responds." He later asked Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson: "[D]id it surprise you that he [Obama] was so un-ethnic tonight? That he never once talked about the condition of African-Americans in this country, never once talked about poor people, never once mentioned poor people, never once talked about the underclass."

Matthews has previously questioned whether Obama can "now win over the regular folks, white folks, against John McCain," and has asked whether Obama can "connect with regular people" or if he appeals "only appeal[s] to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees."

The blog Talking Points Memo noted part of Matthews' September 26 comments.

From the September 26 post-debate edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Pat, I think you had a very interesting point tonight, and that is that we don't know who won this debate 'til we know how, to put it bluntly, the white working class guy, the regular working stiff out there, responds. I do think Barack Obama could have done a hell of a better job tonight talking about the world in which that guy and that woman find themselves right now economically -- a world of endless layoffs in which Goldman Sachs and the big companies turn out all right. They get the money from the government in the end, when the guy who gets laid off gets, what, unemployment?

PAT BUCHANAN (MSNBC contributor): You know, where was the passion and fire that he should have brought to this when you've got a $700 billion bailout of a lot of characters on Wall Street that everybody knows are greedy, many of them corrupt, incompetent, and, you know, masters of the universe who have failed the country, and people are hurting all over America? Why didn't you get that passion and fire from Barack Obama? I don't know, Chris. I don't know if he's got that in the gut. As you saw, as I say, at least when John McCain, when he talks about those 640 guys re-upping and saying, "Just let us win," that's very moving to me. It's a very powerful thing, and it reached that third dimension -- not just cerebral, but the heart and the gut and the spleen and everything. But I do think Barack Obama did something tonight that he had to do, and that is those folks out there that say, "Is this guy some wacko? Is he -- all his left-wing friends, he's got all these -- what kind of guy is he?" I think he did come off as someone who is in the center of American politics, understands foreign policy. You may disagree with him. He's knowledgeable in it, he's no wimp. He's going to fight here and not here. And so I think in that sense, he has helped himself by giving some Americans reassurance that he is not the caricature that some of his own words and the Republicans have portrayed him as.

MATTHEWS: Gene, did it surprise you that he was so un-ethnic tonight? That he never once talked about the condition of African-Americans in this country, never once talked about poor people, never once mentioned poor people, never once talked about the underclass, the people that don't get a break generation after generation. Not once admitted where he came from and what he struggled for as a community organizer -- ever once.

ROBINSON: No, it didn't surprise me. You know, I wrote once that if he's going to become president, Barack Obama has to come across as the least aggrieved black man in America, and I think that's true. And you know, it's not a winner for him to, you know, recount America's racial sins.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

ROBINSON: If you want to become president, you know, I mean, that's just a fact.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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