Guns, God and Government

Did Barack Obama just hand Hillary Clinton and John McCain a nicely gift-wrapped, up for interpretation, potentially damaging quote?

Mayhill Fowler is reporting on the Huffington Post that at a fundraiser in San Francisco this week, Obama put the blue collar voters of small town Pennsylvania on the analyst's couch:

"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," Obama said. "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."

So far, the Obama campaign is not confirming nor refuting the comments, but Clinton has already weighed in on the stump in Philadelphia.

"I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience," Clinton said. "As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

Could this be the comment the Clinton campaign was hoping for from Obama in the final 10 day countdown to the Pennsylvania primary?

Let's skip ahead to the general election – this is the kind of line that the right Republican opponent could turn into gold. If Obama wins the nomination, will the McCain campaign channel Rumplestiltskin and make this a successful talking point through the fall?

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist who leads an influential weekly meeting of conservatives, went as far as to argue that Obama's line would cost Democrats the White House.

"That sentence will lose him the election," Norquist told ABC News. "He just announced to rural America: 'I don't like you.'"

"Now you can vote against that guy not because you don't like him," Norquist added. "You can vote against him because he doesn't like you."

Any fallout from "that sentence" could trip up Obama's own pollster who argued that the Democratic Party's polling shows that "the traditional Republican wedge issues are way down."

"Give the Democrats credit for taking it on," said Obama campaign pollster Cornell Belcher during Thursday's John McCain briefing at the DNC.

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign used every chance they could to remind voters in the battleground states that John Kerry once said that Hollywood performers "conveyed the heart and soul of our country." That line guaranteed boos from the crowd who ate up the President and Vice President's redmeat liberal bashing and cheered when reminded that it was them, the voters of Waukesha, WI/Toledo, OH/Elko NV/etc that really represented the heart and soul of America.

The comments from Obama come on the eve of the Compassion Forum at Messiah College outside Harrisburg, PA, an opportunity for Obama and Hillary Clinton to court the "faith vote" in the Keystone State and the national audience watching on CNN.

John McCain declined an invitation to speak at the forum and will have some down time at his ranch in Sedona AZ instead. ABC News' Bret Hovell reports that McCain was asked today about his faith – why doesn't he talk much about it and why isn't he going to the forum in PA?

The presumptive Republican nominee:

"Well I've written about my faith, and I've talked about my faith and I've talked about my faith not only in God but in my country and my fellow Americans. And how important a role that it's played in my life and my experiences. But I, I, uh, frankly, did not have the scheduling time to, to go there. And I respect that forum and many other forums. But I could show you a stack of requests to go to different forums around the country and we just simply can't meet all those. But I'm unashamed and unembarrassed about my deep faith in God. But I do not obviously try to impose my views on others, and I've written extensively about my faith and I'm proud of my faith."

Faith in Public Life, the group that organized the forum, is billing it as a chance for the candidates to talk about how their faith factors into their decisions on issues like poverty, abortion and AIDS. The candidates will not appear at the same time.

Some things to watch for. . .

How will CNN's Campbell Brown and Newsweek's John Meachem bring up this recent Obama comment on small towns in the Keystone State? How will the issue of Rev. Wright come up? And who brings it up first – Hillary Clinton or the moderators?

Speaking of nicely wrapped gifts, Bill Clinton gave one to Saturday Night Live's Daryl Hammond when he talked today about his Thursday night conversation with Hillary about his comments on her Bosnia trip.

Clinton's comments last night, which ABC News' Jake Tapper notes contained eight errors, Clinton said today in Indiana that Hillary called him last night and told him to stay out of it. "Hillary called me and said 'You don't remember this. You weren't there, let me handle it.' I said, 'Yes ma'am," Clinton said.

While we're pretty sure that conversation ended in a (contrite) "Yes ma'am," we would be willing to wager that there also were some choice words from the current Democratic candidate, given that this is not the first time her No. 1 Surrogate has detoured from the campaign playbook.

The former president has a jam packed schedule in North Carolina on Saturday and will probably stick to the prepared remarks put in front of him, so as to not go even an inch off message. (Not likely to escape Bill Clinton's mouth this weekend…"Well as I was saying to Mark Penn on our 8:30 strategy conference call this morning...")

On the campaign front. . .


-- 9:45 am ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Muncie, IN


-- 9:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Indianapolis, IN

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Mishawaka, IN

-- 4:45 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Valparaiso, IN


-- 9:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Winterville, NC

-- 11:30 am ET: Attends event with voters, Wilson, NC

-- 1:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Goldsboro, NC

-- 3:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Deep Run, NC

-- 5:15 pm ET: Attends event with voters, New Bern, NC

-- 7:30 pm ET: Attends event with voters, Jacksonville, NC

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On the campaign front. . .

BARACK OBAMA -- Attends Compassion Forum at Messiah College, Grantham, PA

HILLARY CLINTON -- Attends Compassion Forum at Messiah College, Grantham, PA

Monday, April 14, 2008

On the campaign front. . .


-- 8:45 am ET: Attends presidential forum on manufacturing, Pittsburgh, PA

At the White House and Beyond. . .


-- 10:00 am ET: Meets with Cabinet, Washington, DC

-- 1:15 pm ET: Presents the Commander in Chief's Trophy to the Naval Academy football team, Washington, DC

-- 6:00 pm ET: Makes remarks in honor of Thomas Jefferson's 265th birthday, Washington, DC


-- 11:35 am ET: Participates in a classroom visit in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Teach for America Week, Washington, DC

-- 6:00 pm ET: Joins President Bush and for to make remarks in Honor of Thomas Jefferson's 265th Birthday, Washington, DC


-- 8:30 am ET: Releases the March report on retail sales, Washington, DC

-- 10:00 am ET: Releases the business inventories report for February, Washington, DC


ABC News' Stephanie Smith and Nitya Venkataramen Report: Bush Says Petraeus' Timeline for Troop Drawdown Not Open-Ended LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Regrets, Bill Has a Few (Not Really) LINK

ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Teddy Davis Report: Al Qaeda in Iraq (Almost) Trips Obama LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Clinton-Backing Senator Compares Her to Gore Regarding 'Liar Caricature' LINK

ABC News' Eloise Harper Reports: Senator Clinton Gets a Workout in Philly LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: McCain Flips a Mortgage (Plan) LINK

ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports: Obama Talks Public Financing, Penn, Carter and Powell in Press Avail LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Obama Explains Why Some Small Town Pennsylvanian Are "Bitter" LINK

ABC News' Jon Garcia Reports: Bushes, Cheneys Taxes Go Public LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Liberal Gay-Bashers LINK


Clinton: Bosnia Was Dangerous
The former president underscores the danger surrounding his wife's 1995 trip. LINK

Powell's Take on 2008 Race
The former secretary of state discusses China's crackdown on Tibet LINK

Old News is New News
The Newseum opens in Washington, DC LINK

Colin Powell's Message to Kids
The second half of Diane Sawyer's interview with the former secretary of state. LINK

Clinton Gets a Workout in Philly
The senator shows off her moves in a Philadelphia aerobics class. LINK

Cheney Sees Naked Woman?
Reflection in vice president's glasses seems to show woman in her birthday suit. LINK

McCain Jokes on 'American Idol'
The senator tells Simon Cowell he could fall victim to immigration reform. LINK

Clinton Defends Wife's Bosnia Trip
Former President Bill Clinton's Defense of His Wife's Bosnia Sniper-Fire Story LINK