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. John Jacobs from Clevealnd

    Lets stop this nonsense...hillary has some explaining to do regarding Mark Penn, her husband and Colombia free trade deal and Bosnia...I don't see OBAMA beating a dead horse about those issues...shows what a man obama is. McCain and hillary should be ashamed of themeselves

    McCain 08

    April 12, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Ken

    He already explained and apologized. If that is not enough, may be he is not a politician as usual.
    Get over it southerner. May be your ancestors were among those who resisted freedom of slaves!

    April 12, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Notobamafan

    Bitter is fine, but to stereotype a huge portion of the American population is so incredibly insulting it is shocking.

    Mr. Obama needs to do bow out of the race. He has wounded the sould of America and has no place in the White House.

    April 12, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. BKB

    Please delete my previous comment.

    April 12, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. MM

    Who is this guy that we even care what he thinks?

    April 12, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Peter Lortz

    Time for less thin skin, parsing words, and discussion of the issues. Both Clinton people and McCain's are picking on every word said by Obama.

    April 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Gene Clark, OH

    Another example of trying to look flashy on the outside, but feels different on the inside. Shows he thinks how the American people feel, but doesn't have a clue. He talks change, don't see it coming.

    April 12, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. Calvincito

    Get serious Saunders. Edwards???????? I like things about him but he's not electable.

    April 12, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. Kathy

    Those are excellent observations of the situation that Obama is in.

    April 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. Gary

    This man received money to influence opinion from one of Obama's rivals.

    Why should we be surprised when his opinion is consistent with what he's been paid to say?

    April 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. Ashford

    It is obvious what Obama was saying about being bitter. I feel he was truly speaking from his heart and the bitter emphasis should be on the government.

    April 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. steve

    Election won by politics of personal destruction is not good for the
    Not this time.

    April 12, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Asifo

    For losers every word counts and for winners only the people count. BO you are a winner.

    April 12, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Jared

    Obama is just like the other politicians – he says what he thinks the people want to hear at the time and then back-tracks the minute he comes under fire. It is a further demonstration of his lack of experience.

    April 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Isabella

    Thank goodness, his true colors are becoming evident before it's too late! Obama as our president would be a worse mistake than the one we have in office now!

    April 12, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. Latina Here

    I hope Obamamaniacs start seeing the real obama.....

    April 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. ladonna

    We Americans at rough times in our lives, do cling to God, and as the crime rates in our cities increase, we do cling to guns. this should not be up for debate, this is insanity to always try to debate what the eyes can plainly see.

    April 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. M L

    Too late to try to explain his way out of this now.

    April 12, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Andy

    He didn't stereo-type anyone! If people feel disenfranchised and that promises about economic development go unfulfilled, then they will give up voting based on economic promises, and focus instead on issues such as gun control and personal values. It's not that gun control issues and values are not important, rather that they don't believe anyone who says they are going to bring them jobs.

    April 12, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. Eddie

    Obama always have alot of explaining to do for being truthful when McCain calls Americans cynical and Hillary just flat out lies to us and laughs about it.Wowwwwwwww!!!!!!

    April 12, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. rachel

    Wow did obama really say southerners cling to guns and religon?. Shame.

    April 12, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. stephen, ca

    I agree, Sen. Obama does have a lot of explaining to do. It seems as his campaign moves forward he becomes more arrogant. He thinks he has the nomination wrapped up. Guess again!

    April 12, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. Mary

    The truth is the light and it must shine. He told the truth. You may not want to believe it but it is the truth. What he said may not apply to you but you are only one of many.

    April 12, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. j.m. pa

    keep your nose out of pa. we are bitter no jobs to speak of unemployment is not down people just cannot sign up anymore and yes we do want to keep our guns why should the politians try to take them away

    April 12, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  25. Ross in MD

    Obama's 'got a bunch of explaining to do' because I'm very small-minded and petty, and I think everyone else cares whether Obama orders OJ instead of coffee or has a low bowling score or uses the word 'bitter' even though ignorant Clintonistas like me don't even know what the word 'bitter' means.

    April 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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