Skip to comments.Barack Obama's hopes fade in blue-collar ghost towns
Posted on 04/20/2008 6:09:13 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Barack Obama's prospects of sealing the Democratic Party's nomination in Pennsylvania tomorrow have apparently evaporated in the state's ghost towns.
In Clairton, a once-thriving community, where The Deer Hunter was filmed in the mid-1970s, the population has shrunk by two thirds in the past 30 years.
Jobs at the huge steel mill beside the Monongahela River have steadily disappeared. Mr Obama and rival Senator Hillary Clinton are pursuing blue collar votes in places like Clairton that could decide the primary and the most closely fought nomination battle in living memory.
If the young Illinois senator wants to expand his support significantly beyond blacks, students and the middle-classes, he needs to win over the likes of Clyde Gouker.
The 48-year-old mechanic owns one of the few businesses in Clairton that is not boarded up or shut down.
The task has become more difficult since Mr Obama made his infamous comments about bitter small town residents in Pennsylvania clinging to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them to explain their frustrations.
Mr Gouker, who shot his first animal, a grey squirrel, at the age of 12, was unimpressed.
"I hunt because I enjoy being out and alone," he said. "There are even times when I don't shoot game which I see. Non-hunters don't understand that too well."
He added that Mr Obama was talking "BS" and was up to his eyebrows in it. But in consolation to the senator, Mr Gouker - who calls himself a Democrat but voted for President George W Bush - thought Mrs Clinton was full of "BS" too. This was not least because of her claims to have dodged sniper fire on a 1996 trip to Bosnia.
At the Boston Diner, Tina Jones was also unimpressed by Mrs Clinton's efforts to prove her small town savvy by drinking shots of whiskey and cups of beer on the campaign trail. Mrs Jones, who has waited tables for 15 years, said: "That was pretty stupid. Are you trying to get drinkers to vote for you?"
As a churchgoer, she found Mr Obama's remarks about religion particularly off-putting.
"You need God in your life. You are brought into religion young and it isn't anything to do with being scared," she said.
But what bothers residents more is that so much attention has been paid to a war of words rather than how to restore their community.
The town's Democrat chief executive, Ralph Imbrogno, said: "The 'bitter' thing will hurt Obama - although it didn't bother me. I want to know how their programmes are going to better Americans' lives."
Both candidates have indulged in personal attacks as their marathon race draws to its close.
With Mr Obama holding a small but seemingly impregnable lead among elected delegates, Mrs Clinton has played "Bittergate" for all it is worth to seek a large victory.
Her only hope of winning the nomination is to persuade the 795 unelected super-delegates with a free vote at the party's nominating convention that she can win "swing states" such as Pennsylvania in November's presidential election.
Polls suggest that Mr Obama's rapid advance over the past few weeks has halted five points behind Mrs Clinton. Some in his own campaign suspect the "Bittergate" controversy is to blame.
If Mrs Clinton wins Pennsylvania with a double digit margin, her campaign will receive a significant boost. But a narrow victory would leave Mr Obama as a deadly rival.
No one wants to know "how their programs are going to allow Americans to better their own lives."
Now, if McCain could agree to a Contract With America 2008, with generally conservative principles, we could clean house (and Senate) of the stench of corrupt democrats.
One cant happen to wonder where we would be at now if the Democrats had stuck to the traditional primary calendar of years past. Well done Howard Dean!
Refresh my mind — What’s Snipergate?
Oh, I got it — the Bosnia/Hillary thing....
Apparently, Obama is not aware that "this is this" in that part of the country.
If you are waiting on the government for that Ralphie, you have a long wait. These people are pathetic. Keep voting for Democrats.
It's Hillary's tale about ducking sniper bullets in Bosnia :-p
good evening by the way Silvie
No,no, their programs are going to embitter Americans.
You're just bitter............. How do you type when you've got a gun in one hand and a bible in the other. /s :-p
Actually, there is a little savvy underneath this...the 'true party faithful' got their marching orders from Harrisburg...from Rendell and then down the line. Rendell 'delivers' the much needed PA for Hillary...a President Hillary takes care of PA. Oh, and Fast Eddie gets a really sweet appointment or judgeship. The dead will early and often on Tuesday...
You have to really wonder about these people. Things have been going in the crapper for 30 years there without the government fixing it. And still they think that this time will be different.
Same mentality as a person with a spouse that has been cheating on them for 30 years. One has to experience a "willing suspension of disbelief" to entertain the notion that the government is going to [be able] fix their problems now.
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