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. Nancy in Ohio

    Obama's true sentiments continue to be revealed. Arrogant, elitist, and out of touch by choice. That's my opinion.
    Keep talking, Senator Obama.
    Mike Huckabee was the only one that I felt understood the average American. Which happens to be most Americans.

    April 12, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. SUE, Michigan

    Yes, Barack is now acting very Clinton-like and getting in his own way. Maybe there should be a moratorium on speeches for the next week! Wouldn't that be nice?

    April 12, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. mary

    Lets ot forget, Obama, also, talked about immigrants.

    April 12, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Kimberly

    At what point can we throw Obama under the bus? What does he have to do before the media says that he has reached the point of NO Return?

    April 12, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |

    hee, hee tisk tisk. This is getting good. Not a lot of forgiveness on this end. If any of the southern rural folks were teetering on the Wright thing, they aren't any more. He has lost the "typical", rural, god fearing, gun-owning vote.

    April 12, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. wise

    i'm small town and rural i;m very bitter about the polices i see in washington. why, can;t he tell the truth about how some voter are feeling and see our country,the commet make him real

    April 12, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. Roxanne

    Here comes the stuff that hits the fan!

    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. mary

    Lets not forget, Obama, also, talked about immigrants.

    April 12, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. M. Vukotich

    These comments are false and are not attributed to the Obama campaign.

    April 12, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. oso1273100

    I guess American people are always happy about everything. They are never "bitter" even when they loss thier job, home,etc... Hillary have some thing to clin to now.

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Lynn D

    I totally agree with Mr. Saunders. I live in a small town in Pennsylvaina and I too am insulted by Senator Obama's comments. Senator Obama cannot win in November. Senator Clinton understands small town folks. She lived in a small town growing up. Don't let Senator Obama fool you. He is an elitist. He attended fancy schools growing up. He has never experienced poverty. I am voting for Senator Clinton on April 22, 2008 because she can win in November. She can and will beat Senator McCain. YES SHE CAN!!!! Hillary '08

    April 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. Mark Hudson

    This is what Obama meant when he talked about "typical white people" – guns, religion, and bitterness.

    April 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. Cherokee

    Hillary should also explain. She is painting Americans as Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy. She is out of touch with reality. Look around Hillary.

    April 12, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. Cheer

    Bayh thinks that Obama would be beaten by Republican's attack on his "bitter' remarks. What about the "file gate, travel gate, Bosnia fire gate" records of Clinton? What an idiot.

    April 12, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. J. Donahue, PA

    . . .Senator Obama explained it perfectly. Now its just up to voters with
    an IQ greater that 10 to get it.

    April 12, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. kcflood

    shut up! Obama is the best thing to happen to this country! Hillary needs to GET OUT!

    April 12, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. Bajanluv, Newport Newss

    Ah, grab your gun and go hunting. When you come back, read what he said. , hear what he said, call CNN and retract your statements. Stop listening to Clinton–the liar.

    April 12, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  18. Eric

    Obama just acted as a typical politican who does not understand rural America, those who own guns, or who are very religious. This is why he cannot be the Democratic nominee for President.

    April 12, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. radster

    Oh, spare me, he's always had a lot of explaining to do since he entered the race. Lucky, he's good at explaining. It all starts with honesty, and empathy, judgment and character help a good deal as well.

    April 12, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. George, Dallas, Texas

    Give us a break! In OBAMA we TRUST!

    April 12, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Key West Sun

    The thing that really gets me is it took Obama and his people 18 hours to get what was wrong after the story broke. This has damaged him in the primarys, but it has killed any chance he every had in the fall. Talk about for the good of the party, he need to stepdown now, wait 8 years and then try again. To much to soon and he has done it to himself.

    April 12, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. M. Siebert, PA

    . . .I can't believe that Hillary is standing in front of peoples faces, and
    actually making them for get about Bosnia, NAFTA, and all her other
    lies and 'misspeaks, by focusing on yet another lie. Are we actually
    that stupid? She seems to think we are.

    April 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. Jim

    Come now let's not go to far, What Obama meant by this is that people are angry because they have lost there jobs and don't expect the government to do anything about that. So they don't vote their on economics actually voting against it by voting for the candidate that they think will not take away their right to bare arms, which no one will, or their faith. I live in rural America and see it all the time, that is why you see more Republicans in rural communities than Dem's.

    April 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |

    obama will take this issue head on just like rev. wright....

    and in the end, it will show that america, not just rural folk, are BITTER

    April 12, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. Wayne

    The "guns and religion" remark was about how people vote and not about their personal beliefs. This was a political observation that the economy is less of a factor in elections because people aren't being listened to as much about that as they are the "hot button" topics.

    April 12, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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