Clinton on Working-Class Southerners, circa 1995: “Screw ‘em”

By Saira Anees

Apr 16, 2008 5:44pm

Some readers have noted the fact that The Huffington Post is going all to town about an anecdote I reported back in October — from Sally Bedell Smith’s book "For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years" — that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, during a 1995 retreat called the "Camp David Seminar on the Future of Democracy had some interesting comments about working-class white Southerners who had left the Democratic party:

"’Screw ‘em,’ she said, ‘you don’t owe them a thing, Bill, they’re doing nothing for you.’ Bill rose to their defense, ‘as if rehearsing an old but honorable debate he had been having with his wife for decades,’" as one attendee recalled.

"’I know these boys,’ Bill said. ‘I grew up with them. Hardworking poor white boys who feel left out.’ He pointed out that liberal reforms had often ‘come at their expense’ and that the Democrats had to ‘find a way to include these boys in our programs.’ Hillary had no rejoinder, but during cocktails after the seminar she stood apart, ‘opaque and unsmiling.’"

The comment obviously takes on added meaning in light of the controversy over recent remarks by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, about small-town Pennsylvanians and Sen. Hillary Rodham Mellencamp’s new posturing on the subject.

- jpt

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