But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of 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. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that 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.
The quality isn’t great — it’s best listened to with headphones. The context doesn’t really change the substance of the remarks, which came as he discussed on his work to connect with working class voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The reason that Obama’s critics are jumping on this is that he seems to be speaking diagnostically about people’s beliefs — their attachment to religion or guns — casting their sometimes-conservative politics as symptoms. Which is rarely how people like to view their own beliefs.
The McCain camp has hit back on the comment. Hillary issued a direct response here:
The BO campaign is fighting back, but rest assured this soundbite is going to be used against Barack Obama from now until the PA primary on April 22nd – and beyond. Talking about people being discouraged and “bitter” about their economic situation is one thing, but asserting that the frustration “causes” them to “turn to guns and religion” is insulting, and also makes it sound like being a gun enthusiast and/or being a believer in God is a bad thing. And to say it in front of a crowd full of the elitist of the elite – well, that just raises the Ickometer even higher.
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