In separate appearances this morning, John McCain and Hillary Clinton both came hard after their colleague from Illinois, making it clear they both intend to wring as much political advantage as they can out of Barack Obama’s poorly-chosen words about small-town Americans at a recent San Francisco fundraiser. Each came at the task in a different way. As the candidate with little left to lose (in this election) and only a slender chance at prevailing, Clinton attacked Obama directly, and mercilessly. The key section, ending with the obviously crafted soundbite:
He said that they cling to religion and guns and dislike people who are different from them. Well, I don’t believe that. I believe that people don’t cling to religion, they value their faith. You don’t cling to guns, you enjoy hunting or collecting or sport shooting.
I don’t think he really gets it that people are looking for a president who stands up for you and not looks down on you.
The Page has the full text and the Clinton video.
McCain, at an Associated Press forum in Washington, had the luxury of letting the issue come to him. He made a passing reference to it in his speech, but saved the knifework for a Q&A with Ron Fournier and Liz Sidoti. McCain’s frame: that the small-town people Obama was condescending to are the very heart and soul of America. Something tells me that’s a construct we’ll be seeing a lot of in a McCain-Obama match-up. Here’s the video:
UPDATE: In case there were any doubts that the Republicans hope to turn Barack Obama into Michael Dukakis, here’s a nod to arugula as 2008’s version of Belgian endive, from the McCain campaign:
“It’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re accused of being out of touch by a guy who thinks the whole country is worried about the high price of arugula or that you hunt ducks with a six shooter.” — McCain senior advisor Mark Salter