Thursday, January 31, 2008

As Clinton focuses on getting rural support, some of Edwards's rural lieutenants come out for Obama

Now that he is out of the presidential race, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina isn't saying whether he favors New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, but his most prominent rural spokesmen are already campaigning for Obama.

"Being a Southerner, being a rural American who's been completely devastated by the trade policies of the Clintons, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that he does not endorse Hillary Clinton," Edwards' chief rural strategist, David "Mudcat" Saunders of Virginia, left, told Norah O'Donnell MSNBC, as first blogged and transcribed in The Politico by Ben Smith.

Kevin Merida of The Washington Post picked up on that today, quoting Saunders as saying, "Hillary Clinton has about as much chance of beating John McCain as this Scots-Irish hillbilly has of becoming pope." Merida also got hold of former U.S. Rep. Ben Jones of Georgia, who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard" and campaigned with Edwards. Jones told Merida, "I've already enlisted in the Barack Obama campaign. The fight goes on. It's about the past and the future, and I'm with the future. I think the Clintons are the past." (Read more)

Beyond such prominent folks, though, Edwards's supporters are likely to scatter, Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, told Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times. "The Edwards base will feel 'cross-pressured,' Kohut said, with men more likely to support Obama and other lower-income voters probably moving to Clinton." Wallsten notes that despite Edwards' anti-poverty message, he "drew votes from an economically diverse bloc, mostly white men, who were just as likely to be rich as they were to be poor." (Read more)

In a non-bylined "Notes" column, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Clinton met privately with state House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, "who only last Sunday was hosting his candidate of choice, John Edwards. Now Edwards is gone. And Porter had a personal, face-to-face appointment with Hillary Clinton after her speech this evening. . . . But he said he would give any decision at least a few days, out of respect for Edwards."

Porter is publisher of The Herald Courier in Dublin, which editorialized this week about Edwards' weekend visit to Laurens County: "Many Sunday may stand on the opposite side from Edwards on the issues, but they wanted to become informed citizens first and foremost. . . . This country would be so much stronger and wiser if all citizens had the opportunity to meet political candidates up close as Laurens County did Sunday. But, that is a pipe dream. However, there is still no reason, in this age of technology, that the citizenry cannot be enlightened about a candidate." (Read more) But it's important to remember that many weekly newspaper readers don't read a newspaper daily, and that most of the television coverage about the race is superficial. So all news media need to pay attention and inform the voters.

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