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.