On the noon edition of MSNBC Live on April 22, MSNBC host Chris Matthews -- purporting to channel Robert Strauss, former Democratic National Committee chairman, chairman of Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign, and ambassador under former President George H.W. Bush -- suggested that Sen. Barack Obama could provide “ethnic balance” to the “interesting, sort of Middle Eastern Hussein in his name” by selecting a Jewish running mate in the 2008 presidential election. According to Matthews, Strauss -- whom Matthews called “one of the grandees of the party”-- “would sit there and say: 'You know what we need? We need a Clinton person on this Barack ticket. We need some ethnic balance. He's got that interesting, sort of Middle Eastern Hussein in his name. Let's put a Jewish running mate with this guy. Put [Pennsylvania Gov.] Eddie Rendell on the ticket with him.' ”
From the noon ET hour of the April 22 edition of MSNBC Live:
BRIAN WILLIAMS (NBC News anchor): You put anything behind this New York Times thumb-sucker this morning about them being each other's running mate? This is more than Kennedy-Johnson, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Oh no, this is more than Johnson saying Kennedy had Addison's disease, because Kennedy did have Addison's disease. This is more like: “You're bad news.” And I think the Clintons believe deep in their souls -- I know this is perhaps self- -- you know -- justifying, but they do believe he can't win the general. They believe he can't win. I don't think they necessarily want him to win, but they don't believe he can win. They think he's a bad candidate for the party. On the other hand, I think the Barack people feel that the Clintons are out to destroy him. So it's very serious. This is not just a little tiff here.
WILLIAMS: You don't see them getting together --
MATTHEWS: No, but I do think something clever could be done. If I were -- you mentioned [former Democratic National Committee chairman] Bob Strauss, one of the grandees of the party. He didn't smoke a cigar but he could have. Adolphe Menjou from the old movies, you know. He would sit there and say: “You know what we need? We need a Clinton person on this Barack ticket. We need some ethnic balance. He's got that interesting, sort of Middle Eastern Hussein in his name. Let's put a Jewish running mate with this guy. Put Eddie Rendell on the ticket with him.” Something clever, a Clinton person who could lock down Pennsylvania, help in Florida, help in California, maybe help in Ohio. He's going to need one hell of a Clintonite running mate, I think, to seal this deal.