WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama continued to try to put his recent controversial comments about rural America behind him Monday.
"Can a Democrat talk about guns, God, and immigration without getting in trouble?" a news executive asked Obama after his speech at the Associated Press annual meeting.
Obama laughed. "I actually think it's possible," he responded. "Not only is it possible but I think it's necessary," he added.
Obama pointed out that attitudes toward firearms in his home state of Illinois are representative of "two realities and two traditions" in the rest of the country.
In downstate Illinois, closer to Kentucky, gun ownership is viewed "as part of deeply held traditions that are passed on from one generation to the other," and failure to appreciate the importance of those traditions "means that you're ignoring something essential," Obama told the room of journalists.
But, he added, "What's also true is that in Chicago, so far this year, there have been 22 Chicago school children who've been gunned down on streets, most of them faultless victims"
Obama painted a similar portrait of the tensions surrounding abortion. "Those of us who are pro-choice have to acknowledge that there's a moral element to the abortion issue." "When we fail to do so, then we're denying something that is deeply held and understood by millions of Americans, including those who support a woman's right to choose," he added. "At the same time, I think it's important to recognize that women don't make these decisions lightly."
"The point is, on all these issues, what's most needed is an ability to listen and acknowledge the values and the ideals of those who are on the other side of a particular debate," Obama said.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Book author and veteran political journalist Cokie Roberts speculated Monday about former President Bill Clinton’s motivations with respect to his wife’s presidential bid.
“The math is tough for her,” Roberts said of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s White House bid. “And, every time she seems to get some traction, Bill Clinton comes along and says something that throws her off again,” added Roberts.
“It’s unexplainable unless there’s some deep-seated problem there that he’s subconsciously doing.” “I can’t get over it. He’s politically so smart and yet he keeps managing to get in the way instead of being helpful,” observed Roberts.
Roberts, the author of the recently released “Ladies of Liberty,” a historical look at some of America’s early influential women, also spoke with Wolf Blitzer about why it has taken so long for the country to have a serious female presidential candidate and about how some women – especially young women – have been torn in their allegiances between Sen. Clinton and her rival Sen. Barack Obama.
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a tough new ad Monday that features the reactions of some of her Pennsylvania supporters who say they were “insulted” by Barack Obama’s controversial recent comments about some small-town Americans.
The 30-second spot – which echoes several days of similar criticism from Clinton and her campaign - features a diverse group of voters reacting to Obama’s comments a week ago that some of the state’s residents were “bitter” and turning to guns and religion because of economic pressures.
Full script follows:
Woman 1: I was very insulted by Barack Obama.
Man 1: It just shows how out of touch Barack Obama is.
Woman 2: I'm not clinging to my faith out of frustration and bitterness. I find that my faith is very uplifting.
Man 2: The good people of Pennsylvania deserve a lot better than what Barack Obama said.
Woman 1: Hillary does understand the citizens of Pennsylvania better.
Woman 3: Hillary Clinton has been fighting for people like us her whole life.
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) - On Monday, with the Pennsylvania primary just days away, Hillary Clinton continued to hammer Barack Obama over his comments that small town Americans "cling to guns or religion" because they are "bitter."
But the audience at a forum put on by the Alliance for American Manufacturing didn't appreciate her line of attack.
"I understand my opponent came this morning and spent a lot of his time attacking me," she said at the beginning of her remarks here.
Many in the crowd responded with audible groans, and a few shouted, "No!"
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) - Hillary Clinton's weekend recollection of her youthful hunting lessons wasn't the first time this primary season she's recounted unloading a few shotgun shells.
At her first campaign stop in Wisconsin on February 16, Clinton told an audience at The Brat Stop in Kenosha about her childhood hunting experience.
“You know you may not believe it, but I’ve actually gone hunting,” she said during a riff about gun control and protecting the Second Amendment. “I know, you may not believe it, but it’s true. My father taught me to shoot a hundred years ago.”
After the event, a reporter asked Clinton what exactly she had hunted.
“A duck,” she said, before expanding a little more on her shooting resume. “And a lot of tin cans, and a lot of targets. And some skeet.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama said rival Hillary Clinton must feel like she's "doing him a favor" by attacking him the way she has been in recent weeks because, according to Obama, it will only make him stronger in a general election against Republican John McCain.
"I have tried to figure out how to show restraint and make sure that during this primary contest we're not damaging each other so badly that its hard for us to run in November," Obama said at The Associated Press annual conference.
"Sen. Clinton may not feel that she can afford to be as constrained," he said, "but I’m sure that Sen. Clinton feels like she's doing me a favor because she's been deploying most of the arguments the Republican Party will be using against me in November and so it's toughening me up. I'm getting run through the paces here."
Obama's comments came in response to a question on whether he felt Clinton should drop out. He deflected by saying he suspects Clinton will have her own answer for that when she addresses the same group on Tuesday.
The Illinois senator also included in his response a backhanded compliment, calling Clinton "unique" for having raised $35 million and remaining in the race all while "sustaining 11 straight losses."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A lot of Democrats are increasingly worried about the tough back-and-forth that is now part of the tense Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama race for the party’s presidential nomination.
There are some very passionate Clinton supporters who clearly don’t like Obama. And there are some very passionate Obama supporters who clearly don’t like Clinton. That is very evident. Just talk to both sides.
In fact, a poll in the current issue of Time magazine has alarmed many Democrats. The poll asked Obama voters if the presidential election were between Clinton and John McCain, whom would they vote for. In the poll, 16 percent said McCain and 16 percent said they don’t know. That’s 32 percent who refused to say flatly they would support Clinton – the other Democrat.
When Clinton supporters were asked whom they would support if the presidential race were between Obama and McCain, 26 percent said McCain and 18 percent said they don’t know. That’s 44 percent who refused to say flatly they would vote for Obama.
WASHINGTON (CNN) –- Democrat Barack Obama continued to tweak his explanation of what some in the media are now referring to as "bitter-gate" by saying he now feels his comments have served as a "distraction."
"I regret some of the words I chose," Obama said Monday at The Associated Press annual conference in Washington, D.C., "partly because the way that these remarks have been interpreted have offended some people and partly because they have served as one more distraction from the critical debate that we must have in this election season."
At a closed door fundraiser just over a week ago, the Illinois senator referred to some small-town Pennsylvanians as "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion."
At the top of his remarks to the crowd, which included a significant number of journalists, Obama made an attempt to turn what he calls his badly-chosen words into a joke.
"I know I kept a lot of you guys busy this weekend with the comments I made last week. Some of you might even be a little bitter about that," he said to soft laughter.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s an unfortunate verbal stumble that’s plagued politicians, pundits and journalists - including CNN - this campaign season: the sound-alike names of the world’s most-wanted terrorist and the leading contender for the Democratic nomination.
Monday, the top executive of The Associated Press was the latest to make the slip. Dean Singleton was addressing a question to Sen. Barack Obama about the strategy he might use in a part of the world where many believe Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is still based.
“…Can you imagine shifting a substantial number [of troops] of Afghanistan - a substantial number to Afghanistan where the Taliban has been gaining strength and Obama Bin Laden is still at large?” Singleton asked the Illinois senator at The Associated Press annual meeting.
Obama himself corrected him, to the delight of the crowd. “I think that was Osama Bin Laden,” he said.
Singleton apologized for the gaffe, but Obama said the correction was becoming habit by now: “This is part of the exercise I've been going through over the last 15 months - which is why it's pretty impressive I'm still standing here.”
(CNN) - Hours after John McCain called Barack Obama's comments about some small-town Americans "elitist," the Arizona senator's campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail seeking to capitalize on the now-famous remarks.
"These words are revealing on a number of levels, and expose the out-of-touch beliefs to which John McCain offers stark contrast," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis writes in the e-mail.
Obama's comments came over a week ago at a San Francisco fundraiser, when he told supporters decades of lost jobs and unfulfilled promises from Washington have left some Pennsylvanians "bitter" and clinging "to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
"If Barack Obama is the Democrat nominee in the general election, the American people will have a clear choice between two different visions – Senator Obama's liberal, elitist philosophy and John McCain's faith in the small town values that continue to make America great. John McCain will not forget them or write them off. Neither should Barack Obama," Davis also writes.