MIFFLINTOWN, PA Hillary Clinton spent a rainy Sunday afternoon in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the sort of small town that has recently been at the center of her race against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In a mirror of the Ohio primary, in which Obama took heat for the Goolsbee/NAFTA affair right before election day, Obama has spent the week before Tuesday's Pennsylvania vote explaining his comment that in "a lot of small towns in the Midwest," people are "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion." Clinton has sought to portray Obama as out-of-touch and to portray herself of the true champion of small town values. She entered Greater Johnstown Senior High School (home of the 2007 Laurel Highlands Section 2 softball champions) to the sounds of John Mellencamp's folk rock tune "This Is Our Country." And if that wasn't on-the-nose enough for the thousand or so attendees, she exited to Mellencamp's "Small Town."
But aside from some very subtle references (Clinton said she wanted to be the president of "every city, every town, every village"), the attack de jour was elsewhere.
Governor Ed Rendell, a stalwart Clinton supporter who spoke before the Senator, tipped off the crowd when he paraphrased this statement Senator Obama made earlier in the day:
"You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain. And all three of us would be better than George Bush."
The critique was that Obama was willing to give an inch — the Democratic talking point of the campaign is that McCain is running for a third Bush term, and saying otherwise suggests that the speaker is either soft or naïve.
Clinton used the opportunity to hammer Obama and McCain both, saying: