April 12th, 2008
04:15 PM ET
14 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. Hillary will lose

    much to do about nothing.

    April 12, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Chris from San Antonio

    I didn't think it was possible to spin desperation, but there it is.

    April 12, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Jim

    Who wants to vote for Obama after hearing all of these things the past month?

    April 12, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Vig

    For all of us who didn't go to Harvard, antipathy means dislike, disgust, aversion. Sort of like what Obama seems to be feeling towards those small town folks of Pennyslvania. The problem with Obama – he can't identify. We are finally about to get rid of Mr. Silver Spooned Bush – we don't need another pompous priss

    April 12, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Sean

    He didn't stereotype anyone. He relayed what people had told him. Get over it!

    April 12, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Mike H.

    This is the best response I've seen yet to Obama's latest salvo of stupidity and invective. We've got to keep this guy out of the White House!

    April 12, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Democrats united

    Give me a break! This such a non-story!

    April 12, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |

    You know cnn, I think you found all those foriegn students who came to the u.s and then vanished, They are bloggers!

    April 12, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. bakersfield

    at least we are finding out more how obama thinks and feels.

    April 12, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. chris nguyen

    obama asked voters took his words as his credentials.. well.. we just saw and heard it.. he looked down on blue colors workers and smear their spirit with hobbies in a sarcastic way.. seemed he forgot where he come from... voters should rejected his remarks and his ticket and send him back to where he came from.. no doubt that hillary will be the best candidate to unite americans.

    April 12, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. nadeem

    This is not what Obama said.

    He said, since people think that voting on the economy is a waste, since nothing gets done, they vote on issues like gun control.

    He also said people are bitter, no jobs, no pension, no healthcare and your house being repoed. Gee what's to be bitter about.

    BTW, Obama is pro guns in rural America. He thinks Americans living in rural areas need guns to keep themselves safe.

    April 12, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Yvonne

    Stop putting words into Obama's mouth. By saying that people turn to guns, or faith when they're bitter does not negate the other reasons that people use guns or embrace faith. This whole story is a hoax. And it's about time that someone who understands the english language puts a stop to it.
    Obama '08

    April 12, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. hibbiejibbie

    Ohhhhh please!!!! Hillary and McCain have one common enemy right now and that's Obama! Obama is the real deal and everyone knows it! They both see he's the clear shot winner and they will prance on any opportunity to try and bring the man down – even by trying to twist, distort or magnify something he mentioned. Honestly, i can understand McCain pulling something like this – he's on the other side! BUT for the life of me, why is Hillary trying to destroy her very own party?! She will stop at nothing to win even if it means dragging down her own party along with her. She manipulative, selfish and patronising and this is the very reason i will not vote for her. She needs to work on her character, she is not painting a picture of someone who I can trust ? she is painting the picture of desperation!

    April 12, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Ken

    Well, Sen. Clinton has reached the point similar to where she was in OH – she had a huge lead in polls leading up the election, Sen. Obama closed the gap, and then Sen. Clinton spent the finals weeks (days) leading into the primary "slinging mud."

    Has Sen. Clinton and her pundits become so desperate that they cling to such words as "reject," "denounce," and "bitter?" Is this really all she has left to say? I guess my point is that I would respect her candidacy a lot more if she were saying things such as "here is why I am the better candidate;" "here is what I plan to do about the economy crisis;" "here is why my idea is better than my opponent's." Instead, here is what we are hearing: "listen, look, look, did you hear Sen. Obama say renounce;" "listen, did you hear Sen. Obama say the word 'bitter'." Simply put, her campaign has grown predictable and tiresome.

    April 12, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. carolinas


    It seems to me that Obama's recent comment about rural pennsylvanians has taking too much twists aand turns. Give it a break and concentrate on real issues of the country. This is not the time for such silly arguments in my opinion.

    OBAMA 2008...!!!

    April 12, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |

    In case no one has noticed! obama never apologizes, that would be beneath his arrogant values, since apparently he thinks we are just mean,lazy and stupid,, I;m really sick of this guy, I hope he has to step down!

    April 12, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Carl from Pa

    Can we get back to the issues, please? This nonsense is getting very very frustrating and annoying. Hillary has "misspoke" a few times herself, so in the silly words of Bill "let's all just chill"

    Obama '08

    April 12, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. Karlyn

    It's all a bunch a do about nothing as far as I'm concerned. My Lord, is this the best they can do? They lay in wait like a lion ready to prounce on their prey at every insignificant opportunity. It's getting pretty comical really.

    April 12, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. joe

    Barack Obama is not the only one running in this presidential race that has spoke about people becoming bitter. Around the time the Lewinsky scandal was going on, Hillary made a speech at Goucher College in Baltimore Maryland in which part of her speech contained these words "We have a choice how to react. We can be pulled down by these disappointments, or we can be made BITTER and angry. But then, we are losers." You think Obama stereotyped us. I think Hillary called us losers. I suggest you read Clinton, Living History,pp442-43.

    April 12, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. RosJ

    Everyone is just spinning this issue and taking everything that Barack said out of context. People did not listen to the whole speech, they just jump on a few words without getting the full understanding of what is said.
    Barack does not need to apologize for anything. Hillary Clinton and John McCain need to get a life.

    April 12, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. cmb

    cnn, I am very disappointed because, you never post my comment, Hillary is a liar and she will do every thing she can to destroy obama character she needs to worry about her own lies she tells everyday her and her husband just flat out liars. I don't think they know the difference between telling the truth or lying ,Obama told the truth and no one can handle the truth is the America or what
    p.s. to much drama.

    April 12, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Filipe da Silva

    Vote for Obama if you want to hear the truth.

    Vote for Clinton if you want to hear lies and hypocrisy.

    Some people just prefer to be deceived...strange, isn't it?

    April 12, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Sara

    Good Lord, is this blown out of proportion, and I agree with Obama. The way things are in this country many people are bitter including me. OBAMA 08'

    April 12, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Tracy

    Real question is why didn't Obama tell Pennsylvania votes what he thought of them when he was holding townhall meetings in Pennsylvania? Hmmmm.

    April 12, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Joe

    These politicians have tremendous head sizes which is incredible. They include Karl Rove, Mitt Romney, Indiana Bayh and Hillary Clinton.
    They must direct descendants of the neanderthal race.

    April 12, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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