Big Names Small Towns

Earlier today the Clinton NC Campaign held a conference call. Former NC Secretary of Cultural Resources Betty Ray McCain, former State Senator Allen Wellons, and North Carolina State Director Ace Smith participated in discussing Barack Obama's "small town" comments. Later an NC "open letter" was released and is reproduced in its entirety:

North Carolinians Decry Senator Obama's Comments on Small Town America in an Open Letter

In response to comments made by Senator Obama this week at a fundraiser in San Francisco, North Carolinians from across the Tar Heel State lent their names to an open letter decrying his characterization of those living in small towns.

BACKGROUND: At a fundraiser in San Francisco this week, Senator Obama shared his views of Americans from small towns: “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.”

The text of the open letter from North Carolinians follows.

Dear Senator Obama:

This week at a fundraiser in San Francisco you denigrated people who live in small town America saying that "they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiments or anti-trade sentiments as a way to explain their frustrations."

We are from small town America – we are the people you are talking about, the people you say are leading "bitter" lives. Well, Senator Obama, nothing could be further from the truth. Here in small town America we lead productive lives full of belief in God and country. We live in communities where we go to church because we are hopeful, not because we are bitter. We believe that our passion for fair trade is born out of the principle of fair play, not frustration. We believe that the future of our country is bright and reflected every day in the stars and stripes of our country's flag.

We need a leader who will stand up for small town North Carolina and all Americans. Someone who understands that we are a resilient and hopeful people who are proud of our values and our communities. That, Senator Obama, is what this country needs.

Signed,

Ellen Lyon, Artist and Gallery Owner, Asheville
Francella Poston, Writer, Asheville
Kathy Skerl, Writer, Asheville
Betty Church, Community Leader, Boone
Baker Edmisten, Community Leader, Boone
Toni Murray, Community Leader, Burlington
Paul Edmisten, Community Leader, Concord
Amanda Duberman, College Student, Elon
Kate McCarthy, College Student, Elon
Hillary Waugh, College Student, Elon
John Rainey, Sr., Attorney, Enfield
Andy Foreman, Community Leader, Greenville
C.B. Parks, Community Leader, Greenville
Allen Thomas, Community Leader, Greenville
Beth Ward, Pitt County Commissioner, Greenville
Beth Hawkins, Businesswoman, Gibsonville
Jim Hawkins, Structural Engineer, Gibsonville
Joe Buntington, Community Leader, Graham
Jerry Coble, Facilitator, Graham
Tyler Cook, Student, Graham
Elizabeth Cooper, Student, Graham
Carrie Thompson, Retired Community Leader, Graham
Denny Wise, Retired Community Leader, Graham
Judy Wise, Retired Community Leader, Graham
Debbie Silverman, Community Leader, Hendersonville
Karl Silverman, Community Leader, Hendersonville
Scott White, Retired Federal Employee, Hendersonville
Amy McAbee, Community Leader, Hubert
Garland Provost, Community Leader, Hubert
Johnnie Provost, Community Leader, Hubert
Bryan Salmons, Community Leader, Hubert
Earl T. Eller, Community Leader, N. Wilksboro
Pattie P. Cox , Community Leader, Manteo
Dr. Joe Allen Edmisten, Montezuma
Allen Johnston, Activist, Purlear
Dawn Johnston, Activist, Purlear
Allen Wellons, Farmer, Attorney and Former State Senator, Smithfield
Ginger Robles, Businesswoman, Swansboro
Dawn Schulte, Businesswoman, Swansboro
Baker Street, Community Leader, Swansboro
Beckie Street, Businesswoman, Swansboro
Jackie Thompson, Family Farmer, Wake Forest
Betty Chamberlain, Community Leader, Weaverville
Mary Hourihan, Businesswoman, Weaverville
Betty McCain, Former North Carolina Secretary of Natural Resources, Wilson
Chris Jackson, Community Leader, Winterville
Tom Hendrickson, Former North Carolina Democratic Party Chair, Zebulon

I don't think Betty McCain and Tom Hendrickson are the kind of small town folk Barack Obama was talking about.

Obama responses to Clinton in the news this PM:

LA Times | NY Times | AP | MSNBC | Bloomberg | Reuters | The Hill

Obama’s camp also held a conference call Saturday featuring Pennsylvania mayors. Lancaster Mayor Richard Gray said that he would use the word angry rather than bitter to describe small town moods. He also disagreed with Obama’s original statement which implied that rural Americans clung to their religion or their guns as a crutch. Clinton and her supporters honed in on that portion of the remarks in speeches and news events today, hoping for an opening that might allow the former first lady to close the gap to Obama.

Gray also said he believed Obama offered the chance to shift the focus to more pressing matters, and would more ably represent the needs of small town American than would Sen. Clinton. Gray called the responses to the remarks put forth by Clinton and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, as more condescending than Obama’s original words were.

 

Comments

I disagree

I live in tiny town, and I disagree with the people who took offense to Obama's comment. In extreme opposite action to any other presidential candidate to date, Obama's campaign opened an office in Washington, NC today. It was one of the greatest sights I've seen in quite sometime.

McCain 47% Obama 47%

 
Rasmussen Reports™ NC Poll released today.

Perceptions of both Democrats has improved over the past month. Obama is now viewed favorably by 54% of Tar Heel voters, Clinton by 43%. Compared to a month ago, those figures reflect a six-point gain for Obama and a five-point gain for Clinton.

McCain 51% Clinton 40%
McCain 47% Obama 47%

Yeah, Senator Wellons, I don't really think

Senator Obama was talking about you when he was talking about working class folks across small town rural America who really are frustrated, afraid, angry and a little bitter about it. Nobody thinks you're angry or bitter, I promise.

But then maybe there's stuff I don't know. If you're worried about your job getting shipped overseas or your pension or health care getting ripped out from under you, well then I apologize and maybe he was talking about you.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

A farming lawyer?

Justice guaranteed, or justice denied?

"Now Henrietta, is it not true that you and this rooster have had an on again, off again relationship for quite some time? I remind you, you're still under oath. And is not also true that you've recently been having a problem with feathers dropping off for no apparent reason? You want us to believe that the defendent brutally attacked and sexually assaulted you, but isn't it much more likely that his frequent infidelities put you in a jealous rage, causing you to make up this entire story to get back at him?"

Why Pennsylvanian must be bitter?

I listened to the whole tape of Obama's remark on PA bitter. Someone asked him what he has to do to win vote from PA middle class. In response, he explained that it's difficult to win because Pennsylvanians are bitter and suspicious of someone, i.e. him, who is different from them,

Obama needed to explain why he can't close the deal. And why his donors should give him more of their money.

Obama was giving his rationale for losing in Pennsylvania. He was giving his rationale to these maxed out donors in Marin, CA. Very ritzy place. These donors had already given the maximum $2300 dollars and this fundraiser was a way for them to donate more money.

Obama's attitudes about middle America are not only condescending but also "liberal elite" in nature.

The only reason why Obama would bring up Pennsylvania was to justify to his "donors" why he couldn't win.

His original statement was unacceptable. Now he tried to explain away his statement by giving more excuse. His action is un-Presidential. He need to be held accountable for his action now. If not, how can we hold him accountable when he become president.

Registered just to post this.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but my stealth ninja senses (no offense to Ninjas intended) tell me we're about to get swarmed.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I'm in PA

I'm a small town Pennsylvanian. Obama's characterization of us as "clinging" to guns and religion, being anti-immigration, anti-trade, anti-people who are different, all under the umbrella of "bitterness' over job losses is a slam to us, and to all rural Americans. Speaking these words to one of his mega-rich, no media allowed (now we know why) fundraisers on Millionaire's Row in San Francisco, Obama slammed the door in the faces of thousands of Pennsylvanians who had greeted him just a week before on his six day bus trip through our state. As he traveled through PA, we saw much coverage of his many side trips: bowling, visiting sports bars, feeding cows at the Penn State cow barns, eating hot dogs in Altoona. Now, I see this all as a pretentious side-show, after which he went running right off to his millionaire donors and basically called PA small town voters a bunch of narrow-minded, prejudiced hicks. I am offended by this attitude from Obama, and by his later response of how much "in touch" he is. He is the one who is showing prejudice, looking at Pennsylvanians as stereotypes. This is unacceptable. He wants to be my president? I don't think so. As a former John Edwards supporter, I have high standards for my president, and Obama just doesn't cut it. I will be voting for Hillary on April 22 in PA.

And another.

Cool. And welcome. I'm glad you're engaged and voting and I am sorry you were offended. Where in PA are you?

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I'm in central PA...

but grew up in western PA. Believe me, Pennsylvanians are very involved in this election, and PA loves Hillary and always has.

That's good news.

And I like Hillary just fine, as I've said before, but I'll be voting for Obama. What date is your primary? Ours is May 6 and there's sort of a buzz building in the air about it -- at work, on the radio, everywhere. We're really excited to have national campaign attention -- it's all so new!! It's very new to me, anyway.

My best to you folks in PA and may the best candidate win!!

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I just met...

another Edwards supporter who told me that she will be voting for Hillary here in NC.

...and I'm not new. :)

High capt ... :)

I know you're not new. I'm a former Edwards supporter and I'll be voting for Senator Obama on May 6. Ain't democracy great?!

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Ditto

Edwards > Obama

That's great to hear!

Believe me, I was a very loyal Edwards supporter. I believe America lost a chance to have a great leader in the White House when he dropped out of the race. I like Hillary's positions health care, poverty, the war, and No Child Left Behind. She's got my vote, and Obama just keeps proving to me that I've made the right choice in supporting her.

teachgrd3

Hi teachgrd3! Are you who I think you are, a poster who commented quite often on the Edwards for President Blog? If so, great to "see" you!

www.MoBetterChange.blogspot.com

Just in case we are swarmed......

When Tom Jensen wrote about the PPP poll that showed Obama taking the lead in PA, he was flooded with over 450 comments on one thread.

Welcome to BlueNC all you Keystone staters. :D

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Smells like an organized and orchestrated

bit of electioneering.

If an occasional poor choice of words disqualifies a person from being president, Senator Clinton should already have withdrawn after her "snipers in Bosnia" gaff.

Not impressed.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

HA!

But of course this is JUST what she needed to take the heat off her "we were under sniper fire" in Bosnia rhetoric.

Now, to be fair, that won't poor wording; it was just a bit of distortion in recollection. Something like that.

She stumbled. Obama stumbled. The race continues . . . .

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Exactly. Hey I don't recall Obama mentioning

Sen Clinton's sniper memory problem at all. Did he use it? Did he use it to the extent that Sen. Clinton is using his poor word choice?

As you said,

She stumbled. Obama stumbled. The race continues . . . .

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

True enough. The media hammered Sen. Clinton

quite throroughly. Just to me, the way each campaign has used/not used the mistakes of the other provides a certain amount of contrast between the two campaigns/candidates.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

my family and I are DEEPLY OFFENDED by Obama's bitter comments

I and my middle class family live outside of Greenville
, NC. We struggle to pay all our bills, hope we don't lose our home, and faithfully go to church to renew our souls. We are not "bitter" that we don't get to eat out as much as we used to, we are not "bitter" that my kids have to sometimes wear hand-me-downs, we are not "bitter" that sometimes we are late in paying our bills.

Sen. Obama's statements were DEEPLY offensive to me and my ENTIRE family. I was leaning towards voting for him, but I don't think so anymore .

I think he and his wife truely do have condencending views towards middle america. Maybe the American Michelle Obama has seen is "mean", but in small towns in PA and Indiana and NC...while we are not content with all the struggles we have, but we are also not bitter, we have guns because we enjoy hunting, we don't "cling to religion".

We are proud of this country and inspite all of our struggles we are ever grateful for the opportunities open to everyone in America and the belief that the American Dream is still available to anyone who wants to pursue it.

Thank you
a NC resident

Horsehockey

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

I don't know why, but

I just got this visual of horses playing hockey. :) I swear am NOT drinking. yet.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

It's not a bad visual

and it's a lot more interesting and less off-putting than what my original reaction would have conjured up.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

I'm offended by Hillary's laughing over Bill's Columbian Deal!

Deeply offended? Yes I am. Bitter - hell yeh!

I feel like Hillary is telling me to just "pull yourself up by your bootstraps", sorta like Sen McSame would. Sen Clinton, with her $109 + million in personal fortune, not counting 2007 (no tax returns for that yet), this senator who is insanely wealthy thanks to Bill's post presidential gigs - wants me to NOT BE BITTER?

Hillary Can't Answer Question on Columbia.

Hillary Clinton stumped by a reporter's question about Bill's conflict of interest about promoting a trade deal with Colombia; while Hillary herself opposes the deal, she has loaned her campaign millions of dollars of her and Bill's shared income, raising questions of conflict of interest. The video is at the link

Meanwhile, when asked a straight question of real consequence, she laughs.
Laughs???

Community leaders?

I decided to look into the one guy that signed this who's from my town, Concord.

Paul Edmisten, Community Leader, Concord

I'd like to know what the Clinton campaign understands under "community leader".

I know every single active Democrat in the county and have never heard of this guy. I have never seen this guy at any Democratic meeting, function or event.

Some snooping around learns me he's a 76 year old hunter. After asking several former Party chairs of My county, it seems like the only claim to fame this guy has is that he's the brother of Rufus Edmisten, who's an attorney in Raleigh and used to be Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the 80's.

Once again, the Clinton campaign goes back to the future to find a guy who used to be a leader in the 80's, then calls his brother to sign a nasty letter and calls him a "community leader".

I'm sure Paul Edmisten is a nice old guy, but he's not a leader of anything, certainly not in Concord.

Rufus

The are three Edmistens on the list. Rufus, not on the list, is currently a state and federal lobbyist. His federal client is Altria aka Philip Morris. He is recovering from an illness and he is a supporter of Democrats but he will represent anyone and will tell you why. Rufus has a long history in NC politics. He has been going around the state with Bill Clinton. He and his wife are members of the NC for Hillary Leadership Council.

Rufus - not to be forgotten

I saw him about a week and a half ago and he looked fine (better than he has looked in years) and sounded fine. In fact, I had completely forgotten that he had been ill -- during which time he looked and sounded so bad that I didn't think he'd recover at all.

One thing you can say about Rufus back in the day -- he was never boring. Someone will write an interesting bio of that fella'.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

The Clinton Hunting Machine in North Carolina

I'm sure Paul Edmisten is a nice old guy, but he's not a leader of anything, certainly not in Concord* Liberal NC

Wrong! Brother Edisten is a confirmed leader. He was the past CEO of Duck Hunters Unlimted in Concord and was known to bag a old prevert republican duck name Brother Coy Privette last year in a undisclosed Motel 6 parking lot. Brother Edisten also did a TV commerial with Bill Clinton in a Hunters suit during the early 90's showing both of them bagging a Owl and two Crows in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Arkansas with empty 404 double barrel shotguns. The Clinton Machine has connections everywhere and when they digg up a old friend, they leave no stone unturn and grave.

404?

Max, do you mean .410? Or are you making a funny on a "page not found" error? Or am I trying to find logic where none was ever meant to exist?

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Obama's hearing what I hear

Does anyone here not know at least 1 person who is bitter, angry, and disillusioned with politics and government? At least 1 person who doesn't vote because they feel "they're all a bunch of crooks?"

I was registering voters last week and I can't tell you how many people just dismissed the idea of voting or told me "there are no good choices this year."

So Obama told the truth. Imagine that. And for people who are willing to listen to him talk about it, they'll see he is making sense. But if you are into "gotcha!" politics, and all you care about is scoring points and tearing folks down under any pretense, well, I guess you write open letters and sign your name to them.

Yep. I believe I could count a few more

than one. In the past I could even count myself among them.

But to lift your spirits, wayne, I have friends who are 40 and above who have been registered for forever and have declared that they intend to vote for the first time in their lives this year. They haven't voted before because they just never saw the point or what difference it made. I can't say for sure whether they've decided to vote now because they've seen just how bad it can get when dogma replaces policy in DC and mindless tough talk replaces thoughtful diplomacy around the world, or whether the current candidates are motivating them, but NC is definitely going to see older voters coming to the polls who have never done this voting thing before in their lives. That is very exciting.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I agree

with every word Obama said. I'm from a lower-middle class background (more lower than middle) and understood exactly the point he was trying to make.

When you are doing your best yet still barely making ends meet while oil prices soar and the government is busy bailing out large corporations, damn right you get bitter.

I'm confused as to the hubub, especially on the Democratic side. All of the groups Obama mentioned (gun-owners, anti-immigartionists, and the heavily religous) are primarily Republican strong-holds who aren't voting for Obama and even less likely to vote for Clinton.

Yeah, I understood the point he was

making, too. I grew up middle class, was fairly wealthy while married, but as a single mom have raised my children in solid lower-middle class income brackets and hard times were serious, hungry, cold, disconnected utilities, repo'd car, zero money for Christmas hard times, not "I need to cut back on eating out" hard times. And I was still going to work every day. Trust me, if that situation doesn't totally break you first, it will make you a little angry and smidge bitter.

With all due respect to the leaders who signed the letter above (because the ones I know really are very loyal good Democrats who are always generous and sincere in their support), I think its possible there is a little bit of class-based disconnect going on with this issue, but I honestly don't think it's with Senator Obama.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Bitter Voters

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There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

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There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy