Clinton Camp Pushes Visuals to Keep Obama ‘Bitter’ Comments Alive

Apr 12, 2008 7:33pm

ABC News’ Sarah Amos and Eloise Harper report: While Former President Bill Clinton has been unusually quiet regarding comments Sen. Barack Obama made calling rural America "bitter," the story has been front and center at his most recent campaign events in the form of a little white sticker.

At a late afternoon rally in Goldsboro, N.C., a dozen or so audience members were seen wearing computer-printed stickers with the slogan "I’m not bitter."

The slogan was in response to comments Obama made recently, when he said, "It is not surprising that they (rural America) get bitter and turn to guns or religion or antipathy." The stickers were again spotted on a random assortment of audience members at the former president’s events in Deep Run and New Bern.

At first, those sporting stickers were confused as to who exactly was distributing the items protesting Obama’s remarks. One young man thought students had been passing them out; another said they came from event organizers; a third said she thought they came from the campaign, but wasn’t quite sure. At first a campaign staffer played up the grassroots angle, not admitting where the stickers had come from

The Clinton campaign staff eventually acknowledged that the stickers were printed by members of their North Carolina team and distributed at the rally, an act that seems to be part of a larger push to keep the Obama story alive in rural North Carolina.

Despite the campaign’s efforts, though, the story doesn’t really seem to be catching on as much as the campaign might have hoped. The stickers are still few and far between in the crowds. In addition, Clinton surrogate and former North Carolina DNC party chairman Tom Hendrickson brought up the remarks at two rallies this morning, and neither time received anything above a tepid response from the crowd.

"My message to Sen. Obama is: We are not frustrated, we are not bitter. We turn to our faith because we believe. Amen. We hunt and fish because it is part of our culture and we enjoy it. So, Sen. Obama, don’t pity us and think that we are bitter and frustrated. We are hard-working family folks who are smart and we get it. We don’t need the pundits to tell us what to think. In the words of that old Hank Williams song, ‘We are country folks and we will survive,’" Hendrickson told a barely applauding crowd this morning in Winterville, N.C.

Whatever the long-terms effect of the stickers and the story, a few audience members seemed happy to have a sticker to wear. As one woman walked out of the event in Goldsboro she said she was appalled by what Obama had said and that the sticker was a good idea.

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