The Corner

Barack in Bitterland

Greetings from Pittsburgh, where Barack Obama is closing out his Pennsylvania campaign.  I have a new story up on the home page about Obama’s rally last night in McKeesport, in southwestern Pennsylvania.  He showed up nearly two hours late and was extremely apologetic.  “I am so sorry we’re late,” he told the crowd.  “I feel terrible.  One of the things we take pride on in this campaign is being on time, or close to on time.”  What Obama didn’t say was that at the time the rally was supposed to begin, he was in a television studio in Pittsburgh, taping an appearance on “The Daily Show.”  Not that the hugely-enthusiastic crowd would have minded if he had told them the truth — he just didn’t.  As for the crowd:

The audience is much different from the one Hillary Clinton drew in this same area a couple of nights ago.  There are a lot more black people here — Clinton’s Saturday evening rally in nearby California, Pennsylvania was nearly all white — and people in the Obama crowd answer two questions quite differently from those with Clinton.

At the Clinton rally in California, and also one across the state in Bethlehem, I asked a lot of people, all of them white, whether they would vote for Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination. More than half of them said no. One man told me he would move to Canada.  At this Obama rally, I ask ten people, most of them black, the flip-side question — If Clinton were the nominee, would you vote for her? Everyone says yes, they would vote for Clinton.  “She’s a Democrat, I’m a Democrat, and I support the party,” a man named Mark tells me. It’s a striking difference from the Clinton crowd.

Then there’s the “bitter” question. Of course everyone here has heard about Obama’s statement that people in places like this are bitter over the loss of jobs in the area, and as a result cling to religion, or guns, or bigotry. People at the Clinton rallies generally took exception to that, or at least thought that Obama drew the wrong conclusion.  With Obama, everyone here pretty much agrees with him.

“I am bitter because of the loss of jobs,” an unemployed man named Dana tells me.  “Right now, it seems like nobody’s fighting for the small communities like McKeesport. I felt like he was speaking for me.”


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