Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton says words don’t matter in an election campaign — unless those words provide fodder to attack an opponent and she and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain are teaming up to try and make Barack Obama pay for his "bitter" words about small-town voters.
Which puts Obama on the defensive, a place he doesn’t want to be as he tries to seal the Democratic nomination and put Hillary away.
In this case, Obama’s words came back to bite him when, at a San Francisco fund raiser, he made these comments about Pennsylvania voters:
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. And 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 a way to explain their frustrations.
Clinton pounced. So did McCain. Both campaigns called on Obama to apologize. He finally admitted his words were "ill chosen."
But is the damage enough to cripple his front-running campaign? Probably not. And the furor overlooks a sad, but simple, set of facts:
- Small town voters in Pennsylvania are bitter.
- They do cling to their guns and religion.
- Too many of them are also ignorant, intolerant and racist.
- And they are just the kind of voters Hillary Clinton needs.