INDIANAPOLIS – Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday expressed regret about the way he phrased a remark describing the plight of Americans who live in small towns, as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign continued its efforts to portray the comments as evidence that Obama is “elitist” and “out of touch.”
“I didn’t say it as well as I could have,” Obama told a crowd in Muncie. Later, in an interview with a North Carolina newspaper, he said: “Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that,” he said.
The controversy stemmed from remarks Obama made at a private fundraiser in San Francisco on April 6 when he explained his struggles appealing to working-class voters by saying they were frustrated with the loss of jobs under both Republican and Democratic administrations over the last decade, adding: “It’s not surprising that 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.”
For the second straight day, Clinton’s campaign focused on the remarks.
“I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America,” Clinton told several hundred voters at a factory here. “Senator Obama’s remarks are elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans, certainly not the Americans that I know. … Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a matter of a constitutional right, Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith.”
Pennsylvania holds the next Democratic primary, on April 22, and then both Indiana and North Carolina vote on May 6. The Clinton campaign is counting on a significant victory in Pennsylvania and beating Obama in Indiana to be able to remain in the race and make the case to uncommitted superdelegates that she would be a stronger candidate in the general election because of her appeal to traditional Democrats who might be tempted to vote Republican if Obama were the nominee.