On the "Bitter" Controversy, Obama Has Surprising Critics

| Mon Apr. 14, 2008 10:08 AM EDT

You may have heard about the latest flare-up in the presidential campaign, which basically involves Hillary Clinton and John McCain slamming Barack Obama for comments he made at a fundraiser in San Francisco:

"You go into 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. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive Administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. 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."

First, Obama was slammed for the word "bitter" — the suggestion being that the word is condescending and pessimistic. After Obama argued back that, actually, people are pretty freakin' bitter because jobs are disappearing, housing is a mess, and the government doesn't seem to be helping everyday folks, Obama's critics changed their focus to the phrase "they cling to guns or religion."

Hillary Clinton trotted out former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, himself a former mayor of small town in the Midwest, who told the press:

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