Hillary Clinton sought political advantage this weekend from comments by Barack Obama about “bitter” voters in smalltown America.
By Andrew Ward
The Clinton campaign portrayed her Democratic presidential rival as patronising and elitist for suggesting that the values of white, rural voters stemmed from economic frustration.
“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 at a private fundraising event in San Francisco last week.
The gaffe threatened to undermine Mr Obama’s efforts to win over white, working-class Democrats ahead of primaries in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina and fuel criticism that he was out of touch with smalltown values.
“People don’t need a president who looks down on them,” Mrs Clinton said. “They need a president who stands up for them.”
Responding to the furore, Mr Obama voiced “regret” if his remarks had caused offence but reiterated his argument that many smalltown voters felt bitter and angry.
“They feel like they have been left behind,” he said. “They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they’re going through.”
The original remarks and a recording were published on the Huffington Post website on Friday.