Discussing Sen. Barack Obama on the April 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris 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?” Earlier in the show, referring to Obama's bowling performance at a March 29 campaign stop at Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Matthews teased the segment with McCaskill by asking, "[C]an Obama woo more regular voters -- you know, the ones who actually do know how to bowl?" As Media Matters for America noted, on the March 31 edition of Hardball, Matthews said of Obama: "[T]his gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder."
During MSNBC's February 5 coverage of that day's primary contests, Matthews suggested to Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean that he should be concerned about the party's lack of broad appeal, noting polls showing a large number of “college graduates” and voters of a “high economic and social echelon” voting in the primaries. Matthews added, “I just wonder where regular people are in this.”
From the April 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: In a moment, more Pennsylvania politics with a top Clinton supporter, a man who personifies the commonwealth of Pennsylvania: U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha.
Today's Gallup tracking poll, by the way, shows Senator Clinton has closed the gap with Obama a bit. It's now a 49-to-45 lead for Obama. But will the whopper about having faced bullets in Bosnia keep Hillary Clinton from overtaking him? And on the other side of the equation, can Obama woo more regular voters -- you know, the ones who actually do know how to bowl -- and finish off Clinton for good? We'll talk to Obama supporter U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. All of that and more later with the roundtable in our “Politics Fix.”
MATTHEWS: Obama -- that's Senator Obama -- has taken a different tone in Pennsylvania, where I'm at right now. He faces an aging blue-collar electorate, one of the oldest states. I think it's the second oldest state, in terms of demographics. People want details about how he plans to improve their lives, keep their kids from moving out of the state, and creating jobs down the road for their grandkids. Can he win over working-class voters here in Pennsylvania?
Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is an Obama supporter.
Senator McCaskill, did you advise Obama to go out and try to bowl the other day?
McCASKILL: Well, listen, I grew up in a small town where you learned to do two things: You learned to bowl and you learned to roller-skate. I can't wait to challenge him to a game of bowling.
MATTHEWS: OK. 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?
McCASKILL: You know, I think people forget about how well Barack Obama is thought of in southern Illinois. I know southern Illinois. They're our neighboring state. They're very much like the people in many parts of rural Missouri. These are working people, salt-of-the-earth people. And if these people of Pennsylvania will give him a chance and listen to him, I think they will be surprised how much they'll relate to him, both as a leader and as a person.