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.
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:
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.