April 12th, 2008
04:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Southern Democrat: Obama's 'got a bunch of explaining to do'

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.”

Saunders was an adviser to former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, and he wrote on The Huffington Post in January that Edwards was the only Democrat with the potential to defeat McCain in a general election match-up.

The consultant is also credited with helping former Virginia governor Mark Warner win election in 2001 by moving socially-conservative voters into the Democratic fold. Warner sponsored a vehicle in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series during that campaign, a move attributed to Saunders.

Obama’s advisers, including the state’s current Gov. Tim Kaine, see Virginia as a state Obama can win this fall. Although Obama won the state’s primary on Feb. 12 overwhelmingly, he lost the 9th congressional district in rural southwestern Virginia to Hillary Clinton.

Saunders said “rural America will be crucial in this election.”

“The one thing that I preached during this whole deal is we can’t be stereotyping anybody,” he said. “Well, Barack Obama just stereotyped my people out in rural America.”

“Here’s a guy who says he shouldn’t be stereotyped, but yet he stereotyped us.”

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. The truth hurts

    Ed Rendell calls people in pa. racist and Hillary didn't say a word. Obama says they are bitter because of government policies and she is up in arms. This woman is crazy and everybody that backs her.

    April 12, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. blake boggs

    This is what America will get if senator obama is president of the united states!

    April 12, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Tyler

    No explanation neccessary, stop trying to spin things in Clinton's favor.

    This is not even a story.

    April 12, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  4. I used to be a Democrat

    Obama clearly goes to a church that is full of bitterness and hate. Obviously he thinks that is what religion is for.

    Time to face the music everybody... Obama WILL NOT WIN in November.

    Obama = Dukasis = McGovern

    April 12, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. ART in TX

    This is so terrible. This country of hateful people don't deserve a leader of character. They should be so lucky to have a candidate that truly cares and will do what he says he'll do when he gets in the white house. I'm pretty sure Americans are not used to that, so we'll see what happens.

    April 12, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. Wendy

    Thank you for saying exactly what the media won't.....that Barack is a fake and can't be trusted. He complains about people stereotyping him, yet he obviously feels quite comfortable stereotyping others. No double standard there.

    Of course the media and his campaign and his crazy supporters will spin this one for him as well.

    April 12, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  7. John, Milwaukee, WI

    Barack and Michelle are the greatest hate/race purveyors of BITTERNESS that I've ever seen in America ... if this man doesn't resign from the Democratic primary election, he is going to set race relations back 50 years and could possible even be the catalyst for a race war!

    April 12, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. mjaber

    Everyone makes minor mistakes. That doesn't mean it's the apocolipse.
    Obama '08

    April 12, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  9. Greg

    wow he sounds bitter

    April 12, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. JoeSky

    I don't think Obama really understand the feeling of small town American. This was probably the first time that Obama went to Penn state, and took the bus tour into rural area. He doesn't connect with the people and he generalized them based on his limited understanding of their way of life.

    April 12, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Don - Illinois

    Get over it. The fact is people are bitter. Bitter about the same old politics that are played. I'd rather take a chance with Obama that things can be different than to give in to the same old same old with Clinton or Mccain.

    April 12, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Ijane

    Please have a little patience with Barack. He's never met America before now. He's only read about us in anti-American books.

    April 12, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. test


    April 12, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Elisabeth


    April 12, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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