"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.
Not surprisingly, both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain are already using those words against Obama. "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." An aide to McCain thinks Obama's comments were "remarkable and extremely revealing." "It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," said Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to the Arizona senator. "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."
This story breaks just as Obama is criss-crossing Indiana on an extended bus tour. I suspect Obama's comments won't play well here in Indiana where he is already behind Clinton according to several polls. This might be that pivotal, turning point Clinton has been hoping for to rescue her struggling campaign. Obama, according to the Star's Mary Beth Schneider, is responding quickly to his opponent's reaction. She writes:
Firing back at critics from both parties who suggested he's an out-of-touch elite, a fired-up Obama said it's they who are out of touch.
"I'm in touch. I know exactly what's going on. I know what's going on in Pennsylvania. I know what's going on in Indiana. I know what's going on in Illinois," Obama thundered to a crowd of about 2,600 at North Vigo High School.
"People are fed up. They're angry and they're frustrated and they're bitter," he said. "And they want to see a change in Washington, and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America."
I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw my nephew sitting on the front row of Obama's North Vigo High School appearance in Terre Haute where he attends school. Knowing his father, I'm sure he wasn't too pleased to see his youngest son rising to applaud Obama's remarks. I couldn't help but think just how surreal this campaign has become. One of the Clintons or Obama are here in the state almost every day campaigning. Bill Clinton and Obama are in Terre Haute the very same day. Hillary's campaign headquarters burns to the ground. Bill is on the scene surveying the damage. How very strange.