Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Obama's last shot to make broad rural appeal? Strategic calls loom as time runs short

With a compressed calendar facing the candidates, this week's Democratic National Convention may be Sen. Barack Obama's "last shot at building rural support," Robert T. Garrett writes in the Dallas Morning News. Garrett says Obama "will stress pocketbook issues this week to woo voters in the wide open spaces," but still has to resolve a key strategic question: whether he will pursue or abandon "his campaign’s springtime swagger that it would 'expand the map,' challenging John McCain in reliably red states where rural voters may be key."

For months, Democrats have been telling Obama that he can attract rural voters if he will spend time with them, but with only two months left until the election, more disinterested experts say he should limit such efforts to key battleground states. His rural strategy could depend on what Republicans do in the coming week to 10 days, former former Texas House Speaker Pete Laney, a Panhandle cotton farmer, told Garrett. "Some of it is going to depend on who McCain picks; it’s going to depend on what kind of rural program that Obama’s going to have and what kind of rural program that McCain’s going to have," Laney said.

Yesterday, at a meeting of the Rural Caucus at the Democratic convention, "Obama surrogates talked jobs, health care and rural highways," Garrett reports. "Outdoors TV show host Tony Dean, a lifelong Republican, said he’s switching parties to head a Sportsmen for Obama group. Mr. Dean said he’s '99 percent sure a President Obama isn’t going to infringe on gun rights.' Austin author and rural online newsletter editor Bill Bishop, though, said Mr. Obama won’t make much headway on issues alone." In his recent, well-reviewed book The Big Sort, Bishop "argues 'lifestyles' have crowded out philosophy as the key factor in voters’ decisions." (Read more)

In his own publication, the Daily Yonder, Bishop notes that Sen. Hillary Clinton "ran strongest in rural communities" and "One worry among Democrats is that Obama has failed to consolidate support among Democratic voters." He cites this comment to The Washington Post's Alec MacGillis and Paul Kane:
"Jim Beasley, the commissioner of Ohio's Department of Transportation, did not have high hopes for Obama in his area of southern Ohio. "Ahhh, well. Rural Ohio will be difficult," he said. "Rural areas are difficult for him.'"
MacGillis and Kane talked to swing-state delegates at the Rural Caucus and other gatherings and found that some "do not share Obama's confidence that he can overcome the resistance many voters may have to electing a black president with an unusual background and name." From their story, here's another example from Ohio:
Sarah Hamilton, a Clinton supporter who works for the Ohio Federation of Teachers, linked Obama's challenges in the state to the resistance that other Democratic presidential candidates have faced in trying to trump social issues with economic ones. "I really think it still has to do with 'Gods, guns and gays.' You bring in his race, and the Muslim rumor, all these things are factors that are easy to play out in the rural areas," she said.


SFO Admin said...

Mr. Dean said he’s '99 percent sure a President Obama isn’t going to infringe on gun rights.'
Mr. Dean is either ignorant or in denial about Obama's long history supporting every gun control measure to come along. Obama even indicated that he thought the D.C. gun ban was constitutional in a November 07 interview.Check out Sportsmen for Obama?.

Anonymous said...

""Outdoors TV show host Tony Dean, a lifelong Republican,"

No he's not. Tony Dean is a far left environmentalist whose opinions and ideas ran the opposite of any lifelong Republican. One thing he is famous for is masquerading as a "lifelong republican". He is also a Sportsman Outdoor writer, but his main camouflage is his claims to be a conservative Republican.

"said he’s switching parties"

I doubt he was in the Republican party to begin with.

"to head a Sportsmen for Obama group. Mr. Dean said he’s '99 percent sure a President Obama isn’t going to infringe on gun rights."

Either he actually believes that, in which case he is a naive simpleton, or Dean is lying through his teeth and that he knows perfectly well that Obama is going to infringe on gun rights. I think the latter.

Anonymous said...

"Outdoors TV show host Tony Dean, a lifelong Republican, said he’s switching parties"

This is an interesting claim, given that Dean was mentioned by the Rapid City Journal in 2003 as a "possible Democratic candidate for Congress" who endorsed Democrat Senator Tim Johnson for reelection just a year earlier. Dean's efforts to draw gun owners to Johnson weren't enough, and Johnson's Republican challenger, John Thune, became a U.S. Senator from South Dakota. According to public records, Dean donated money to another anti-gun South Dakota Democrat, Tom Daschle, also in 2003.

For Tony Dean to have "switch[ed] parties to head a Sportsmen for Obama group" he would have to have done so at least two years before Obama was even elected to Senate, and five years prior to he announced his presidential bid. Indeed, it appears the word "lifelong" is as difficult for Dean and the Obama campaign to define as the word "is" is to Bill Clinton.