Skip to comments.Barak Obama 'Belittles' Small Town America (UK Version)
Posted on 04/12/2008 7:34:30 PM PDT by blam
Barack Obama 'belittles' small town America
By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 12:52am BST 13/04/2008
Barack Obama's presidential campaign has been knocked off balance after the Democratic White House frontrunner was caught on tape apparently belittling the fears of small town Americans who have lost their jobs.
Senator Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana
The senator from Illinois was forced into a frantic damage limitation exercise after a recording emerged in which he appeared to dismiss impoverished blue collar workers as bitter individuals who have turned to God, guns and immigrant bashing to make themselves feel better.
His rivals and political commentators seized on the comments, pronouncing them a watershed moment that raises questions about whether he understands many of the people he hopes to lead - for whom religion and the right to bear arms are positive and wholesome aspects of their lives, not a crutch fashioned from bitterness.
In comments which may seriously damage his chances of winning the forthcoming Pennsylvania primary election, Mr Obama told fundraisers: "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.
"It's not surprising then they get bitter. They cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy to people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Mr Obama has recently narrowed Mrs Clinton's lead to between four and seven points in the latest polls, after pouring record sums of money into television advertising in the state.
In the last three weeks alone, he has spent more than $6m, three times that of his rival. As a result, an average voter in the major cities and the Philadelphia suburbs, the key to the election, can expect to see each Obama advert more than 20 times.
A media monitoring group last week said he has now screened 100,000 commercials nationwide this year - five times the number John Kerry aired as he won the 2004 nomination.
But he has struggled to win over blue collar workers, hit hardest by the economic downturn and competition from overseas jobs. The forum in which he made the comments - an upmarket fundraiser with wealthy Californians last weekend - appeared to reinforce claims by his opponents that Mr Obama is an arrogant elitist, with little feeling for ordinary voters.
Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the New York Daily News, accused Mr Obama of "de-legitimising the way people choose to live in America" and argued that the furore would be even more damaging for Mr Obama than the previous row over inflammatory comments by his pastor Jeremiah Wright.
He said: "This is like Wright on steroids. It is a disaster for Obama. I happen to come from one of those small towns in Pennsylvania. I know what people there feel about religion and guns and immigrants.
"It's not about just hating other people. They don't embrace religion out of hate. They don't hunt or use their guns for target practice out of hate. You cannot denigrate religion in that way."
Democrat strategist Robert Zimmerman said: "This raises questions about whether he can truly unite the country, as he pledges to, and whether he really believes that we're one America."
A jubilant Grover Norquist, the conservative anti-tax campaigner said: "That sentence will lose him the election. He just announced to rural America: 'I dont like you'. Now you can vote against that guy not because you don't like him. You can vote against him because he doesn't like you."
Mrs Clinton told voters in Pennsylvania that she does not consider them to be bitter. "I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves," she said.
"Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them. They need a president who stands up for them."
Steve Schmidt, a senior aide to the Republican candidate, John McCain, said: "It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking."
Mr Obama, campaigning in Indiana, refused to apologise. He insisted he was not out of touch and attempted to recast his words in a more sympathetic light. "When I go around and I talk to people, there is frustration and there is anger and there is bitterness," he told a rally in Terre Haute.
"Theyre frustrated, and for good reason. They've seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs. They have lost their pensions."
He claimed both Mrs Clinton and Mr McCain are themselves out of touch, accusing the former First Lady of being beholden to lobbyists in the financial services industry and the Republican nominee of waiting too long to come up with a plan to tackle the subprime mortgage crisis.
He was talking about Obama right?
Orchestrated to deflect attention from his association with a racist pastor...... What better way to get people to forget his support of a preacher who damns America than to get the same people to argue about something else????? This empty-suit Obama is a shrewd SOB.........
McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.
Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain’s job offer.
“I’ll take it!” one man shouted.
McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. “You can’t do it, my friends.”
Obama just let out what really thinks.
Typical White People are ignorant racist bible bashing trigger happy hicks.
Condescending SOB ain't he?! Fame has poisoned his pea size brain!!!
Boy I wish I was wealthy enough to be a Trotskyite. I’d like to know who these donors are, I’ts bad enough what he said but they lapped it all up. These are the people who believe they are revolutionary,
Boy are they going to be surprised if it ever comes,God, guns and the rest.
bump with no comment.
It seems Barry was paying attention to Rev. Wright all those years.
Obama = Racist, Marxist, Muslim, Anti-American, Black Radical....enough said....pretty straight forward...
Of course there is, and most of it is coming from you, Barack... /grin
Don’t think so. This is MUCH worse. Some folks were willing to give the benefit of the doubt (insanely) on the Wright issue - this one it’s damn hard to get over, unless you’re on DU, where they show themselves what condescending elitists they are.
ya, aint we though
Welcome to Free Republic.
I think Obama has shot himself in the foot with double barreled mouth. Nobody says such things mistakenly. Not he, his wife or his pastor.
This scumbag Obama must be buried. I don’t care what does it - - his own assinine hypocrisy or Larry Sinclair. Barack Hussein Obama’s political career needs to come to a crashing and final end.
I had the same question.
The elites, of course, support having an Obama to be the savior to both these outcasts. The problem, I think, is that it's simply impossible to lump inner-city hopelessness to small town bitterness, even assuming that bitterness is a widespread dynamic of small towns, which I haven't observed.
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