For the second straight day, Clinton's campaign focused on the remarks, and advisers traveling with her were beaming at the opportunity to turn attention away from Bill Clinton's latest gaffe. The former president made a number of factual errors in trying to explain his wife's description of taking sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia in 1996, resurrecting an issue the campaign thought it had put behind it when the senator acknowledged she had misrepresented what happened.
"I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America," Clinton (D-N.Y.) told several hundred voters at a factory here. "Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans, certainly not the Americans that I know. . . . Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it's a matter of a constitutional right, Americans who believe in God believe it's a matter of personal faith."
Pennsylvania holds the next Democratic primary on April 22, and then both Indiana and North Carolina vote on May 6. The Clinton campaign is counting on a significant victory in Pennsylvania and on defeating Obama in Indiana to be able to remain in the race and make the case to uncommitted superdelegates that she would be a stronger candidate in the general election because of her appeal to traditional Democrats who might be tempted to vote Republican if Obama were the nominee.
Some analysts compared the impact of the controversy over Obama's remarks to the setback his campaign experienced after incendiary sermons by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, were publicized last month. "With the Wright controversy still lingering (his opponents are stirring it over and over) and now Obama's unartful comments, it will paint the picture of Obama as being 'out of sync,' " Donna Brazile, an uncommitted superdelegate, said Saturday. "Unfortunately, it was the Constitution law professor speaking and not the community organizer."
But another Democratic strategist, who assessed the moment candidly on the condition of anonymity, said: "Ultimately, the case that McCain and Clinton will try to make that Obama is an elitist or out of touch has to be credible to the voter, and I don't believe it is. My sense is more people believe Obama, rather than McCain or Clinton, understand their lives and the challenges they face on a daily basis."