VALPARAISO, Indiana (CNN) - Hillary Clinton appealed to Second Amendment supporters on Saturday by hinting that she has some experience of her own pulling triggers.
“I disagree with Sen. Obama’s assertion that people in our country cling to guns and have certain attitudes about trade and immigration simply out of frustration,” she began, referring to the Obama comments on small-town Americans that set off a political tumult on Friday.
She then introduced a fond memory from her youth.
“You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl,” she said.
“You know, some people now continue to teach their children and their grandchildren. It’s part of culture. It’s part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter.”
Supporters show their enthusiasm for Sen. Clinton by bringing bobblehead dolls in her likeness to a campaign event in Indianapolis Saturday. (Photo Credit: AP)
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that if he has offended people with comments he made almost a week ago where he labeled small town Pennsylvanians "bitter" and that they "cling to guns and religion" then he regrets it.
"Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, according to a transcript provided by his campaign.
"The underlying truth of what I said remains, which is simply that people who have seen their way of life upended because of economic distress are frustrated and rightfully so," he told the North Carolina newspaper. "And I hear it all the time when I visit these communities."
Earlier in the day, Obama told an audience at a town hall meeting in Muncie, Indiana that he didn't word his comments "as well as he should have," but did not go as far as using the word "regret."
Obama first made the comments Sunday at a closed-press fundraiser in San Francisco.
Update with statement from McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds:
“Voters will reject his so-called truths that he still stands by. His remarks were false. The importance of our Second Amendment and our country’s longstanding history with faith and spirituality are born in history, not bitterness and frustration. His view is absolutely restricted by elitism.”
- CNN Political Producer Chris Welch
MISHAWAKA, Indiana (CNN) - Dave ‘Mudcat’ Saunders, the Virginia-based Democratic strategist credited with helping big-name politicians appeal to rural voters, said Saturday Barack Obama has “got a bunch of explaining to do” over his claims that economically-frustrated Americans “cling to guns or religion” when they get “bitter.”
“I’m a southern boy myself,” Saunders told CNN by phone. “I don’t have a gun because I’m bitter, it’s because I’ve always had one. I don’t pray to God because I’m bitter. I pray to God because it makes my life better.”
(CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton didn’t touch the subject, but the Clinton campaign used his appearances in rural North Carolina Saturday to hammer at Barack Obama’s “bitter” comment on small town voters.
Speaking before Clinton came to the stage Saturday in Winterville, the former chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party laid into Obama’s remarks. Tom Hendrickson told the crowd, “My message to Senator 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's a part of our culture and we enjoy it. So, Senator Obama, don't pity us and think that we're bitter and frustrated. We're hard working family folks who are smart and we get it.
The Clinton backer said, “We don't need the pundits to tell us what we think. In the words of that old Hank Williams song, 'We're country folks and we will survive.”
The former President left the issue alone in his remarks at Winterville, one of six stops he’s making Saturday in the eastern part of the state.
–CNN's Steve Brusk
MUNCIE, Indiana (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that he didn't word his recent comments at a fundraiser "as well as he should have" but added that the back and forth that developed between Obama and fellow White House hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John McCain is "typical."
At a closed-press event in California Sunday Obama referred to some jobless Pennsylvanians as "bitter" who "cling to guns or religion." Saturday, the Illinois senator sought to douse any further firestorm over the comments.
"I didn't say it as well as I should have," Obama told an audience in Muncie, Indiana, the day after he first defended his comments, "because the truth is is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation–those are important."
The campaign added that the "traditions" Obama referred to are those of gun ownership and religion. Obama said those traditions are "what sustains us."
He also labeled the dust up that's developed as "a little typical sort of political flare up" because, as he contends, he said something that "everybody knows is true."
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) -– Sen. Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton’s top backer in the May 6 primary state of Indiana, argued Saturday that superdelegates need to evaluate Barack Obama’s “bitter” remarks when deciding who to back for the Democratic nomination.
“I think it’s a real potential political problem and it’s something for superdelegates and voters to think about,” said Bayh, who was made available to reporters by the Clinton campaign to speak about the controversy.
“The far right wing has a very good track record of using things like this relentlessly against our candidates, whether its Al Gore or John Kerry,” Bayh said, “I’m afraid this is the kind of fodder they might use to harm him.”
The popular Indiana senator said Republicans were able to tarnish Kerry’s war record and turn Gore into a “serial fibber,” and predicted they will “use this to damage Barack, the Democratic party, and ultimately frustrate the change that we need in this country.”
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) - Hillary Clinton sought on Saturday to fan the flames surrounding Barack Obama's controversial assertion that voters in some small towns are "bitter."
Clinton told an audience of automotive workers here that she was "taken aback by the demeaning remarks Sen. Obama made about people in small town America."
"Sen. Obama's remarks are elitist and out of touch," she said. "they are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans, certainly not the Americans I know, not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York."
Clinton aides said they planned to make Obama's comments central to their message on the campaign trail this weekend. The New York senator will campaign across Indiana Saturday, and will return to Pennsylvania on Sunday.