Sunday, June 22, 2008

Writers suggest heart of Central Appalachia as site of first post-primary joint event for Obama, Clinton

(See update below.) When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton make their first post-primary joint appearance this Friday, at a site that has yet to be disclosed, they might be well advised to come to the heart of Central Appalachia, Charles Mahtesian and Amie Parnes write on
The writers suggest Mingo County, W.Va., (in Encarta map) among five good places to go. The others are Maricopa County, Ariz.; Youngstown, Ohio; Broward County, Fla.; or San Antonio. We're betting that the former foes will meet up in a place less like Mingo than one of the others, but Mahtesian and Parnes make a decent argument for an Appalachian trip:

"Appearing with Clinton in the heart of the anti-Obama belt — the section of Appalachia where Clinton racked up 70, 80 and in more than a few instances, 90 percent of the vote against Obama — would be a bold statement about his intention to address the vulnerabilities the primary season exposed in his candidacy," they write.

"Mingo, like many of its neighboring counties across the border in Kentucky and nearby in Virginia, didn’t simply reject Obama. It had a visceral loathing of his candidacy — delivering just 8 percent of its vote to him, compared to Clinton’s 88 percent. Race clearly played a role in that result, so bringing the Obama-Clinton roadshow to Appalachia would be an important step toward bridging that racial gap, not to mention a sign that he is not writing off Kentucky and West Virginia just yet. The media coverage of such a politically daring and conciliatory stunt would be almost unimaginably fawning, though the out-of-the-way location would likely diminish the size of the media pack."

The writers could have (and probably should have) noted that in April, John McCain visited Martin County, Ky., which borders Mingo County and is the home of Republican National Chairman Mike Duncan. For their arguments for the other locations, click here. For former Appalachian reporter Judy Jones Owens' take in the Daily Yonder on some of the political reporting by outsiders visiting the region, which is that they were, er, taken, click here.

UPDATE, June 23: Obama and Clinton announced today that their first joint post-primary event will be in the battleground state of New Hampshire and the town of Unity, population 1,500, where each of them received 107 votes in the January primary. Very cute. The news has already prompted dozens of comments on John DiStaso's story in The Union Leader.

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