Inside Obama's inner circle, aides conceded they are not sure where the issue might lead, although it is likely to set the tone and raise the stakes of the Wednesday night debate between Clinton and Obama in Pennsylvania. They described Obama as frustrated with himself for word choices such as "cling" and references to hot-button issues including religion and guns, but also stunned at the uproar over what to him seemed a fundamental fact of American life.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), a Clinton backer who was traveling his state with her, said, "I don't think Senator Obama is an elitist." He added, however, that voters and the Democratic officials known as superdelegates who also get to vote on the party's nominee should consider whether his remarks would allow Republicans to paint him that way.
"But we do have economic hard times," Bayh said, "and that does lead to some frustration and some anger."