May 13th, 2008
10:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Why West Virginians turned out for Clinton

Clinton’s West Virginia supporters say they weren't swayed by grim pundit assessments.

Clinton’s West Virginia supporters say they weren't swayed by grim pundit assessments.

CHARLESTON, West Virginia (CNN) -There was never much of a question about who would win the West Virginia primary. The electorate is made up of older, white, blue-collar voters that have become Hillary Clinton's base.

But they've also been hearing a week of speculation that Obama's path to the nomination is inevitable. So why turn out?

"I think she's got the experience to get us out of a deep hole," said Johnny Nance, a preservation contractor who owns the building in Huntington where Clinton has a campaign office. "You can't win this country's [presidency] without winning West Virginia. We've picked them the whole 20th century," added Nance before saying he'd support whomever the Democratic nominee is.

"She's brilliant," said Veda Hughes, 58, joined by three friends at Clinton's victory party Tuesday night.

Does the impression the New York senator can't win bother her? "Heck no! No! We're in this 'til the end, it doesn't bother us at all!"

"I think Obama is a wonderful speaker and I love what he says but I think Hillary has the experience, she knows what's going on. She tells what she's going to do," added companion Amy Wade, 35.

Several people pointed to potential baggage Obama could carry into the general election.

"I don't think his wife has been a credit to him, I don't think his minister has been a credit to him," said Diane Givens.

Surgical technician Jeremy Elswick, 30, agreed that Wright was a negative and said Obama didn't do enough to woo the voters of West Virginia. "He just seemed like he had his nose up in the air. She seems like she's for the blue-collar people of West Virginia."

Clinton heads to Oregon - considered Obama-friendly territory - on Friday before campaigning in Kentucky, a state whose demographics are very similar to West Virginia's.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • West Virginia
soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. D in New Mexico

    I will be sending Hillary more money – because she deserves it. She has fought long and hard, because she truly believes in what she is doing. Obama is nothing – his candidacy is a complete joke, and the Republicans have WANTED him to be the candidate from the beginning. Why? Because they WILL beat him. So sad that these young, 'educated' (by the way, my entire family is VERY educated, and we're ALL Hillary), kids who don't know anything about life (and mostly aren't even Democrats) are psyched up about someone who preaches rather than providing real solutions. It's so sad as to be pathetic.

    Keep reading ridiculously biased headlines, kids, and keep believing in empty promises rather than real solutions – you're in for a rude awakening when McCain wins because REAL Democrats will NOT tolerate this meddling both the DNC and the liberal media has perpetrated! It is called, 'civil disobedience' and soooo many Democrats I know are going to do it. The DNC does not OWN us, we own IT... and we're not going to just sit down for it. Hillary or McCain '08!

    May 14, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  2. Douglas

    A true democrat is someone who cares about the best interest of the party. We know that their are only minor ploicy differences between Obama and Clinton. So lets not let pride, gender or ignorance and bias stand in our way. So when this race is over lets unite behind the winner of our partys nomination. Senator Obama has run an impressive campaign, one that democrats should be proud of. He has shown himself to be poised and presidential. Often refusing the temptation and provacation to respond negatively. He has abided by the rules that were set in place and as a result will win fare and square. This is the essence of democracy. A democracy I fight for every day in the military. I have served to tours in Iraq and have lost comrads along the way. White, black, male, female, dont get caught up with the messenger. Be able to see beyond the physical appearance and know that there is a greater cause to which the canidate is called. Come on democrats the time is now to do what you know is right for this nation. Our childrens future depends on it. God Bless

    May 14, 2008 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  3. cornelia, minneapolis

    About Clinton's supporters... from geriatic

    ""Fools Rush in / Where wise men never go......"


    May 14, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  4. Martin

    How can you have a long drawn out article on "Why West Virginians Voted For Hillary"?
    It can be summed up simply:
    Small-minded, poorly educated, politically and economically naive bigots hate educated multi-racial urban candidates.

    Hillary has won the bigot vote. The fact she's even proud of it is not just a disgrace for the Democrats but saddening for America. It confirms every negative that those outside of America believe (usually wrongly) about the United States.

    If Hillary represents America it's because she represents the most shameful and cancerous element.

    May 14, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  5. ack2358

    This lifelong 50 year old democrat will vote for McCain if Senator Clinton does not get the nomination. And here's why:

    If the DNC thinks their rules to disenfranchise the voters of MI and FL will serve them well in the fall, they should rethink their stand. I would imagine those who voted for Sen. Clinton would not be in favor of voting for Obama since they had not say in the nomination process. True their party leaders in MI are to blame, but it is still the citizens of these states that will be going to the polls in November. Foolish DNC rules coming back to bite them.

    Secondly, this is the first time in history that a qualified woman has come so close to the nomination, and the party backs a first term junior senator as our candidate. Are you kidding? After George Bush, the most experienced person is needed. And to see Kennedy, Kerry, Richardson, etc. not support Senator Clinton is perceived as sexist by many woman in the Democratic party. I have no choice but to vote for McCain and let the Democratic party rethink it's position on woman in their party. If a very qualified woman cannot get the nomination now again a junior senator, then when? I'll let them think about this for four more years.

    May 14, 2008 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  6. Sileshi

    Every one should know that Bill clinton (the husband) won the election in WV. Not Hillary. If she and Obama have similar focuses, how come she could get the upper hand in this mountainous state? It is because of Bill. By the way , where did Bill go on Tuesday night in WV?

    May 14, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  7. Jorge

    A foreingner, just trying to understand.

    When senator HK's campaign says that every democrat since 1916 has won general election through winning WV, are they talking about primary elections? In other words, who won 2000 and 2004 primary democrat elections in WV?

    May 14, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  8. mike

    Hey BB1953
    I dont care how they vote but if they and YOU want one of the biggest LIARS ever to be in the white house thats your business. You must be from West Virginia, I only think of it as a speed bump between real states.

    May 14, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  9. SANDI

    Hillary is holding on because she thinks she is superior to Senator Barack Obama. She is very confident that America still has more racial divisions even though he appeals to all sides of the spectrum. I believe that most American's like myself are tired of racial tension and that the majority of us want to move on to another chapter in this election. I have no doubt that Obama can be a very good president. I will vote for him in November.

    May 14, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  10. Lisa

    WHAT has Obama ever done to make you think he would make a good president?? All he can do is make a good speech. He has hardly any national experience and he has no backbone whatsoever. Not to mention he is standoffish and an elitist. You may whine now about Clinton still being in the race but you will all be whining a lot more in the fall because McCain will end up winning because the uniformed Democrats wanted to vote for the person they saw on Oprah.

    May 14, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  11. Christopher in Silicon Valley

    Sam C,
    How many of those were caucuses?

    Obama won many of the caucuses because the loud liberal wing of the Dem Party loaded them while older people stayed home and working people were, well, working....

    May 14, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  12. stop the madness

    "I think she's got the experience to get us out of a deep hole," said Johnny Nance, a preservation contractor who owns the building in Huntington where Clinton has a campaign

    Johnny did you think to get your money upfront if not you will be in a deeper hole or have you not heard she has mismanaged her campaign so that she has not paid venders in most of the states she's left behind something to the sum of 20 million in debt.

    Now is this the demostration of the leadership you most prefer? The fact that she and her camp has introduced a new method of math to bendfit her, maybe this is the intelligence you are so drawn to. No it's the way that she has inspired so many to search deep within themselves to embrace the hatreds and fears has incited your heart to rise in hope of a American of 50 years ago. Or maybe it's the mafia style way that she and Bill commanded the white house for the eight years I'm sure the research you've taken the time to do on them has driven your state to chose her this day! And they say WV is mostly slow, racist and uneducated, the nerve of them!

    May 14, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  13. Democrat

    Hillary again shows that power matters more than the interests of the American people. Her "experience" does no good when she doesn't have the judgment or willpower to use it for the common good of the people. She'll pander and lie just like GW. If she were in a general election she'd lose to McCain because, why take a Bush-lite when you can have the real thing?

    Obama has the prudence and judgment calls to serve the better of the people. He correctly called out the gas tax but West Virginia fell for it bad...and they think they know what's best for the country? I seriously hope a bridge falls and kills people to wake up your prejudiced minds.

    May 14, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  14. anonymous 123


    May 14, 2008 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  15. Friendly reminder...

    Please remember, before looking ahead to November and settling down into that nice big two-story ranch-style in Pettyville or Soreloserton or even Imjustvotingmyconscienceburg, that a write-in for Hillary is a vote for the continued decline of The United States of America.

    May 14, 2008 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  16. SD in OHIO

    Why are you obama supporters making fun of WV,just because they didn't agree with your vote.It kills me that you guys can say all this stuff even though most of you have never set foot in their state.The people of West Virginia are good,honest,hardworking people that do not deserve the crap you are throwing at them.Also before you even say it,yes I have been there.I live in southeastern Ohio and spend alot of time in WV.As a matter of fact the people(and scenery I might add),are better than most other states I have been(and I have been to a good few).As for all the stereotypes,you guys have got to stop believing everything you see in movies and on tv.If you believe all that crap,then I have to believe you are the stupid uneducated ones.

    May 14, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  17. Don, Terre Haute, IN

    Well, she's got the George Wallace Vote sewn up....

    Seems like a former Goldwater gal who left the Republican party in disgust at the racism of the 68 Convention would be bothered by that, but I guess not.

    May 14, 2008 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  18. wade sabean

    Barak Obama is not that far ahead of Clinton. He has gotten where he is because Blacks have carte blanche voted for him as well as some younger voters. Consistently Clinton has gotten key states. If he was the best candidate wouldn't he have pushed further ahead of her???? He is not that strong as a candidate. His message of change sounds just like words without the substance. On the other hand Clinton has clear policies and direction. Obama has not clearly said what his policies are and what he will do.

    May 14, 2008 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  19. Denise

    WV can you say NAFTA. Gov don't ask for help when your blue collar folks can't feed there families in the near future. Clinton's woth 100 mil, MeCain's wife is worth more. How many millionaires in WV? India and China working your jobs. America is not even considering the coal you grudge. Free your mind!

    May 14, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  20. ammananda

    1881 stars for the new president, wake up everybody. the world is changing, be happy, be a real american. Love yourself, love the world, love God...
    Obama brings america back in the hearts of all humans, tell your chidren and grandchildren this beautiful story of hope and glory.
    Open your eyes and hearts, so peace will do the rest. Time for the colors of real promise.

    God bless yoy all.

    May 14, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  21. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Just a little matter of honesty, why does Clinton, and her supporters, keep saying she won Texas? Of the 193 available delegates Obama got 99, Clinton got 94!

    May 14, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  22. Terri





    May 14, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  23. Terri


    May 14, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  24. Cheryll Thompson

    After watching with keen interest the the campaigns waged by both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama particularly after hearing both speak today, i have been powerfully moved to add my voice to this very imprortant debate.

    I am struck by how easily persons are dazzled by someone offering wonderful words of inspriation. Democrats are hearing Senator Obama and are following him in the same way that many other nations throughout history has, to their detriment, followed idealistic leaders who have no skills in managing the business of the nation.

    Senator Obama has throughout his campaign pointed to only one major decision that he made re. the iraq war and to a few projects that he sucessfully started in his home state. While he says really great things about the direction the country should be heading given the important issues of the future, Senator Obama is very very sparse on substantive measures to address the issues of today which must be first dealt with. He has not clearly outlined a roadmap to that place of prosperity that he speaks of but gives tantalizing glimpses of solutions that do not hold up well to scrutiny but leaves the listener feeling hopeful and inspired. He has catered to that very great need of the american people at this time in history. That need to be able to arise from the gloom of today's world and see a bright future. And in satiating that need they are blind to the situation that just talking pretty does not change the circumstances. Even more troubling to me is, my impression that if as Mrs. Obama indicated, if Senator Obama did not get the nomination he would not want to be apart of the election apparatus. This says to me that Senator Obama is enthusiastic because of the 'history' of the moment and not in the crisis that is facing the nation.

    Senator Clinton, on the other hand, has shown the stuff of a great leader who makes things happen. She may not be as inpirational with well spoken pictures of the future. But she has demonstrated that she knows how to impliment programs on the scale required to run the nation. She has spoken clearly of the importance of solving today's problems while keeping an eye on future issues and have been much much clearer in outlining solutions. But, to me, even more importantly, she has shown that she will buckle down when the going gets tough and be tenacious in fighting for what is right and one does not get the implession that if all did not go her way she would fade into oblivion. This speaks to the character of a true leader, one who works for and works with her people.

    May 14, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  25. Timothy

    West Virgina made a big fumble by not turning out for Obama. What a big mess West Virgina made. This is so sad. West Virgina you all could of have shown to the World that your minds are open and broad. to Obama Well I will continue to Pray for Obama that he wins in the general elections. side note I donot think God has brought Obama this far to leave him.

    May 14, 2008 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
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