Barack Obama went on attack following criticism from both his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, that Obama was elitist and out of touch because he said many small-town voters were “bitter.” Obama said that she was playing politics with his mention of gun rights, and mocked her vocal support of hunters, saying she was suddenly “talking like Annie Oakley.” (Los Angeles Times’ Top of the Ticket blog)
What the commentators said
Making fun of Hillary’s sudden enthusiasm for guns is certainly fair, said one of The Economist’s blogs. Clinton consistently earns an “F” rating on gun rights from the National Rifle Association. When she acts like she has some “personal bond with the gun-toting community” she looks silly, the way John Kerry did on his “lame duck-hunting trip during the 2004 campaign.”
That doesn’t mean it’s smart for Obama to go on attack, said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary’s Contentions blog. That “only works when a candidate doesn’t have a problem of his own with the voters,” and Hillary didn’t call small-town Pennsylvanians “irrational gun-toting, Bible thumpers; he did.” If Obama wants those voters to “forgive” him, he’s “got to make nice with them,” instead of bashing Hillary for “being Hillary.”
The amazing thing is that Obama doesn’t seem to understand why people were offended when he said working-class voters “cling to guns or religion,” said John Fund in The Wall Street Journal. “For all his winning ways and natural appeal to the camera,” it’s clear that he is prone to making “rookie” mistakes in his first national campaign. Unless he sharpens up, the general election battle could be brutal for him, if he gets that far.
Both Clinton and Obama have handed the Republicans a gift with the silly “Bittergate” flap, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post (free registration). Obama, “carelessly” said that key swing voters “cling” to guns, God, and anti-immigrant sentiment because they are “bitter.” And Clinton made matters worse "by piling on shamelessly.” Together, they have let the Republicans, who “rally to the aid of the country’s wealthiest citizens, successfully cast themselves as pork-rind-eating, NASCAR-watching, gun-toting populists” in yet another election.