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Published on Apr 12, 2008
Caren Bohan Reuters Saturday, April 12, 2008
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama came under fire on Friday for saying small-town Pennsylvania residents were "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion," in comments his rivals said showed an elitist view of the middle class.
Obama's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain both pounced on the comments Obama made last weekend at a fundraiser in San Francisco.
Video of the fundraiser, which was closed to the press, surfaced as Obama was campaigning in Indiana, trying to highlight issues of concern to working-class voters, such as job losses and rising mortgage foreclosures.
"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," Obama, an Illinois senator, said.
"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 anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," he said.
Clinton, a New York senator who is battling Obama for the Democratic nomination and the right to face McCain in the November presidential election, said in Philadelphia the comments showed Obama "looks down" on voters in Pennsylvania, which holds a closely watched nominating contest on April 22.
"Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them," she said told a rally. "They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."