Barack Obama tries to explain his “bitter” remarks.
** MORE “BITTER.” The Quinnipiac poll coming out tomorrow on the Pennsylvania primary apparently shows little change so far. Hillary Clinton still leads Barack Obama, but not by a whole lot.
Meanwhile, of course, the Clinton campaign is going up tonight with a TV ad attacking Obama, featuring outraged Pennsylvanians.
** OIL HITS NEW RECORD HIGH. Crude oil closed at a new record of $111.76 per barrel today on the continued decline of the dollar against the euro. The euro is now at $1.58, a near record.
** OBAMA HITS BACK ON “ELITIST” CONTROVERSY, A.P. CHAIRMAN REFERS TO “OBAMA BIN LADEN.” Barack Obama addressed the controversy over his comments about small town Pennsylvanians at a private San Francisco fundraiser at the annual Associated Press conference. He also took questions posed by AP chairman William Dean Singleton, who referred to Osama bin Laden as Obama bin Laden. After Obama corrected him, Singleton, whose Media News chain owns a string of newspapers around the country, including the Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, and Oakland Tribune, apologized.
I know I kept a lot of you guys busy this weekend with the comments I made last week. Some of you might even be a little bitter about that. As I said yesterday, I regret some of the words I chose, partly because the way that these remarks have been interpreted have offended some people and partly because they have served as one more distraction from the critical debate that we must have in this election season.
I’m a person of deep faith, and my religion has sustained me through a lot in my life. I even gave a speech on faith before I ever started running for President where I said that Democrats, “make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people’s lives.” I also represent a state with a large number of hunters and sportsmen, and I understand how important these traditions are to families in Illinois and all across America. And, contrary to what my poor word choices may have implied or my opponents have suggested, I’ve never believed that these traditions or people’s faith has anything to do with how much money they have.
But I will never walk away from the larger point that I was trying to make. For the last several decades, people in small towns and cities and rural areas all across this country have seen globalization change the rules of the game on them. When I began my career as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, I saw what happens when the local steel mill shuts its doors and moves overseas. You don’t just lose the jobs in the mill, you start losing jobs and businesses throughout the community. The streets are emptier. The schools suffer. …
I’ve heard these stories almost every day during this campaign, whether it was in Iowa or Ohio or Pennsylvania. And the people I’ve met have also told me that every year, in every election, politicians come to their towns, and they tell them what they want to hear, and they make big promises, and then they go back to Washington when the campaign’s over, and nothing changes. There’s no plan to address the downside of globalization. We don’t do anything about the skyrocketing cost of health care or college or those disappearing pensions. …
And after years and years and years of this, a lot of people in this country have become cynical about what government can do to improve their lives. They are angry and frustrated with their leaders for not listening to them; for not fighting for them; for not always telling them the truth. And yes, they are bitter about that.
Now, Senator McCain and the Republicans in Washington are already looking ahead to the fall and have decided that they plan on using these comments to argue that I’m out of touch with what’s going on in the lives of working Americans. I don’t blame them for this — that’s the nature of our political culture, and if I had to carry the banner for eight years of George Bush’s failures, I’d be looking for something else to talk about too.
** OBAMA MAINTAINS NATIONAL LEAD IN GALLUP POLL. Notwithstanding the controversy over Barack Obama’s remarks about the frustration of some small town Pennsylvanians, Obama is holding a significant lead over Hillary Clinton in the national Gallup tracking poll. It’s Obama 50%, Clinton 40%. The poll was conducted April 11-13.
I haven’t gotten new Pennsylvania primary numbers yet.
** MCCAIN ANNOUNCES “FORGOTTEN AMERICA” TOUR AT ASSOCIATED PRESS ANNUAL MEETING. Now, before I take your questions, I would like to respond briefly to the comments one of my opponents made the other day about the psychology and political mindset of Americans living in small towns and other areas that have experienced the loss of industrial jobs.
During the Great Depression, with many millions of Americans out of work and the country suffering the worst economic crisis in our history, there rose from small towns, rural communities, inner cities, a generation of Americans who fought to save the world from despotism and mass murder, and came home to build the wealthiest, strongest and most generous nation on earth. They were not born with the advantages others in our country enjoyed. They suffered the worst during the Depression. But it had not shaken their faith in and fidelity to America and its founding political ideals. Nor had it destroyed their confidence that America and their own lives could be made better. Nor did they turn to their religious faith and cultural traditions out of resentment and a feeling of powerlessness to affect the course of government or pursue prosperity. On the contrary, their faith had given generations of their families purpose and meaning, as it does today. And their appreciation of traditions like hunting was based in nothing other than their contribution to the enjoyment of life.
In my other profession and the war I served in, the country relied overwhelmingly on Americans from these same communities to defend us. As Tocqueville discovered when he traveled America two hundred years ago, they are the heart and soul of this country, the foundation of our strength and the primary authors of its essential goodness. They are our inspiration, and I look to them for guidance and strength. No matter their personal circumstances, they believed in this country. They revered its past, but most importantly they believed in its future greatness, a greatness they themselves would create. They never forgot who they were, where they came from, and what is possible in America, a country founded on an idea and not on class, ethnic or sectarian identity. And America must not and will not forget them.
Next week, I’ll begin a tour of places in America that do not frequently see a candidate for President. They are places far removed from the prosperity that is enjoyed elsewhere in America. I want to tell people living there that there must not be any forgotten parts of America; any forgotten Americans. Hope in America is not based in delusion, but in the faith that everything is possible in America. The time for pandering and false promises is over. It is time for action. It is time for change, but the right kind of change; change that trusts in the strength of free people and free markets; change that doesn’t return to policies that empower government to make our choices for us, but that works to ensure that we have choices to make for ourselves. For we have always trusted Americans to build from the choices they make for themselves, a safer, stronger and more prosperous country than the one they inherited.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
Hillary Clinton is in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Bill Clinton is in Corydon, Indianapolis, and Decatur, Indiana.
John McCain is in Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.
THE MORNING COLUMN
And last week had gone so well for Barack Obama. Until Friday afternoon. This week in presidential politics, the spotlight will shine brightly on the Democratic frontrunner, with a suddenly critical debate Wednesday in Philadelphia against Hillary Clinton.
This week’s debate comes six days before the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary, a must-win-big affair for Clinton in her struggle to retain relevance in the race. Pennsylvania is a perfect state for Clinton — older, whiter, with established political machines and closed primary in which independents can’t vote — but Obama has been coming on strong there. He closed what was once a 25-point gap in the Keystone State into single digits.
But that was before Friday afternoon’s report in, of all places, the vehemently pro-O Huffington Post, about his remarks at a private fundraiser on April 6th in San Francisco. The event was closed to the press and off the record, but an Obama supporter, an activist blogger who has given the maximum allowable contribution to Obama, was allowed in and proceeded to record the freshman Illinois senator’s lengthy (45 minutes off-the-cuff) remarks. She blogged about them.
Very late in her piece, with Obama talking about the plight of some in small town Pennsylvania, came some magic words. About “bitter” people, “clinging to guns and religion.” Whoops! That was all it took for the John McCain campaign, with senior advisor Steve Schmidt, former head of the Bush/Cheney campaign war room and campaign manager for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, leading the way, to rapidly mobilize every media organ of the Republican Party. The Clinton campaign was slower to get its act together, but, with options closing down, jumped on even harder.
Hillary Clinton does her Jack Nicholson impression.
Jumped on a little too hard, probably, with “I’m not bitter” stickers reportedly going mostly unused at Clinton rallies and the candidate herself pretending to be an avid gun-lover and church-goer. Which, as it happens, she is certainly not, since she won’t say the last time she fired a gun or went to church. But the Clintons are happy to change the subject from Bill Clinton’s stunning “explanation” for Hillary Clinton’s lies about her purported Bosnia “landing under sniper fire.” The former president came up with a stunner, a multi-faceted fabrication to rationalize his wife’s multi-faceted fabrication.
John McCain appeared last week on American Idol.
While the Democrats engage in their fresh round of follies, McCain will continue to raise money and organize for the general election.
Before the report of Obama’s private fundraiser remarks emerged, McCain’s week had gone only fairly well. The final three candidates each had their “presidential” moments last Tuesday questioning General David Petraeus when he appeared before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees to report on the situation in Iraq, where things had been going quite well before the recent factional fighting, uncomfortably settled by Iran. Obama and Clinton both did fine, as did McCain. Except for when he confused the Shia with the Sunni. Whoops.
But we know that he knows the difference, so the verbal gaffe hasn’t hurt him. Yet.
It could, however, in a different way. When Silvestre Reyes, a Texas Democratic congressman, became chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s worst moves, it emerged that he actually did not know the difference between Shia and Sunni. McCain quite obviously does. But there is an emerging narrative about him being pushed by his partisan enemies.
Just as Obama is being pushed by his partisan enemies as an elitist who is not a real American, and Clinton is being pushed as a liar who is dangerously ruthless, McCain is being pushed as a doddering warmonger.
While he continues to back the military surge in Iraq that he championed, McCain’s campaign will continue to look for ways to appeal to all-important independent voters by showing that he is a different kind of Republican, appealing to Latinos and blacks and young voters. He’ll also be campaigning in Pennsylvania this week while the Democrats duke it out there. It’s a state the McCain campaign would love to take in the general election. …
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil is trading in the $110 to $111 per barrel range.
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