On the Ground in PA

Today, we continued our persuasive canvassing of Central PA. Before I go any further, I have to tell you that the Harrisburg area is Obama territory for a couple of reasons: 1.) it has a very high African-American population in the city and 2.) There are Republicans here who very much want Hillary to lose. That probably harshed your mellow, right? Well, it shouldn’t.

My partner, P., and I did an upscale neighborhood in the suburb of Camp Hill, right across the river. And although there were a lot of not-at-homes and a few die hard Obamaphiles, voters were open and wanted to talk. That’s always a good sign when they want to talk. Undecideds are precious. I absolutely love them. They are hashing things out and with the right positive message, you can almost see them coming over to you. Something in their eyes looks like it’s unlocking a puzzle. As a canvasser, I want to give the voter a reason to vote *for* my candidate, not against the other guy. I try very hard to not fall into the trap of going for the jugular with Obama. There are so many positive things about Clinton that there really is no need to go there. One thing I did find helpful was relaying my experience of seeing all of the candidates together at YearlyKos and having the opportunity to ask Hillary a question. First hand experiences do seem to count and when the voters asked me what Obama was like, I can tell them honestly. He was aloof, not terribly animated and didn’t have much to say. I think he would be a great presidential candidate in a few years but he didn’t have the same fluidity and comfort with the material as Hillary.

My partner, P., has a marketing person in her family and recommended that we write little “Sorry I missed you” notes on yellow stickies to be left with our literature. The phrasing and words used on the stickies counts too. Like, never say, “We need your support.” Say instead. “She needs *your* vote.”

As we were walking the neighborhood, an SUV slowed down and a man with shades stuck his head out the window and said, “We’re Hillary supporters!” He and his wife took stickers and ordered a yard sign and then pointed out to the several Obama signs in the neighborhood and told us those houses were Republican. The homeowners were petty and malicious and wanted to hurt her, they said. Yeah, these are the Democrats for a Day that Obama supporters worked so hard to recruit. They’re not voting for a Democrat in November no matter who it is.

I was surprised at the number of mixed households there were. Invariably, the wife was a Hillary supporter, her husband was either an Obamaphile or a Republican. One guy answered for his wife, “She’s voting for Hillary. I’m actually a Republican. {{pause, sotto voce}} but I registered to vote for her too” *wink*, “NOOO, we don’t want a yard sign. Not in *this* neighborhood.”

Everyone who took literature was incredibly nice about it. There were several times when I thought I had really interrupted something, but the voter was still interested and polite and seemed happy to see us. They were just undecided.

Back at HQ, canvassers from the day before told us of having territories in the rural famlands where they had to drive between houses. Democrats there are few and far between. But most striking to them were the number of confederate flags. They were on REPUBLICAN houses. I think this is the part that Obama doesn’t get about small town and rural voters. The nasty bitter ones are the Republicans. You know, the ones that register for Democrat for a Day to vote for Obama so they can knock Clinton out? The swing Dems, like my mother, voted for Bush because of religious reasons, like abortion. She’s anti but has come to realize that Republicans were using the issue to get everything else they wanted. She’s no longer a single issue voter and she’s voting for Hillary for all the right reasons.

As for the others, well, even my Republican brother and sister are seeing the light. Racism was NEVER an issue for them. They were all about small government, patriotism and fitting in with the herd. Central PA *is* very conservative. There’s nothing but Rush and Glenn Beck 24/7 and for my brother, who is in the Army Reserves, he was surrounded by it. If you want to get along, get ahead, fit in, you do as the Romans do. You adopt their attitude if not their hatreds. But the possibility of going to Iraq has started to have an effect on him. He snapped out of it. The constant barrage and conditioning of rightwing speech just stopped making sense. Now, they can see the width of the gulf that lay between the values they were raised with and radical Republicanism. Obama’s stupid remark threatens to undo all of that and reinforce what Rush has been saying about Democrats all along- we’re elitist snobs who don’t understand the regular guy. We just want to lord it over them. If that notion starts to take hold, they might think that maybe Rush was right about a whole lot of other stuff too. Maybe they *do* want to raise our taxes and take away our guns and impose a nanny state. Its baaaaad!

But I’m getting away from the canvass. We got back to HQ and dropped off our sheets and Maya did her job very well and sneakily got us to commit to more work next weekend. I was going to do it anyway but P. has small children at home and wasn’t planning on coming back. Maya might have changed that. We’ll see.

Next weekend is going to be very intense. The more visibility we can get the better. We need canvassers and people just holding up signs at intersections. If you can make it you won’t be sorry. Clinton voters are resolute but Obama supporters seem soft to me, like they are repeating the “He’s going to change the world” mantra but they don’t quite believe it. They doubt. Why else would they ask questions about Hillary and stand there listening patiently? There is a chink in Obama’s armor.

Anyway, we’re making progress but it’s still going to be tough in Central PA and every vote counts. She’s doing well but that’s not going to be good enough. We want to stun Obama with a loss he will never forget. We want to make history. So, get out there!

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44 Responses

  1. Hi riverdaughter,

    Thanks for the great report from the field. I’ll bet you are a great canvasser. I like what you said about seeing something change in people’s eyes when they start to connect with what you are saying. I’ve seen that when I’m talking to people.

    I’m listening to the “faith forum” on CNN. Hillary did a good job. I tend to be uncomfortable listening to people talk about religion and spirituality. I consider my spiritual beliefs and experiences to be very personal. Obama is talking right now. He’s still busy trying to explain his faux pas in talking about small town PA voters.

  2. Thank you.

  3. Oh brother. Obama thinks we need to focus on abstinence in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions. I don’t trust him on this issue any more than anything else. I don’t trust him to appoint good judges to the Supreme Court.

  4. BB: Yeah, it’s spooky. I literally saw something change in the eyes of a couple voters. One guy just stopped talking altogether and had the most intense expression on his face. Another woman’s eyes got much friendlier. It was like she was just waiting for someone to say the right combination of words to help her decide. I just told her that she’s like a lot of us. It’s a process of elimination and weighing all of the criteria carefully and that she wasn’t alone. I started as an Edwards supporter but just like Paul Krugman in the NYTimes, I reasoned my way through it and ended up with Clinton. Krugman was the thing she was waiting to hear. She said she was going to look up all of his recent articles and read them. If she does that, she’s one of us. He lays it all out, slowly and methodically and doesn’t praise one too highly over another. For a person who needs guidance through a decision, especially on the economy, Krugman is the way to go.

  5. All this talk of faith would make me scream, so I’m not watching. And because I have to vote for someone, I’m going to pretend this absurd event never happened, Go Hillary!

  6. Rich–

    It is pretty lame, but Hillary did a nice job. Obama is stuttering and stumbling as usual. Of course they haven’t asked him why bitter people cling to their faith or anything about Rev. Wright.

  7. BB: Obama doesn’t *have* to pander to the Messiah college crowd. Yes they are conservative and evangelical but they are also taught to question. Messiah doesn’t do the young earth theory either. They teach real science and know that some parents who sent their children there will object. But Messiah’s attitude is tough noogies. Science is science and we’re not cutting corners. It’s up to the individual to reconcile their personal beliefs with natural selection. They really should be applauded for not giving in to the fundamentalists.

  8. rd: They finally asked him about Wright. He’s going on an on about his community organizing…zzzzzzzzzz

    Is this guy ever boring.

    He did say that he believes in evolution. That’s a relief!

  9. RD:

    Good work! Those people belong in our party, and should be supporting Hillary, even if they don’t realize it.

    They aren’t stupid, or bigoted, they’ve just been inundated with misinformation.

    24/7 HillaryHate on TV and radio can do that.

  10. By the way, can someone ask him how the people who were the objects of his “community organizing” are better off for it? That part hasn’t been clear to me.

  11. myiq2xu: Yep, it was the rightwing wurlitzer. I’m convinced of it. Plus, they already live in a very conservative area without major universities or opportunities to interact with diversity. That’s all they really need-diversity, in communications and community. Republicans will always be interested in self because that’s who they are. But swing Dems just need for the message to break through all the shouting. In a way, this contentious primary season has been wonderful in that respect. Voters see that there is a real difference between the parties and they are finally hearing what that difference is. Obama should be commended for that- just before he hurries back to the Senate to finish off his term.

  12. LOL! OK, we’ll credit Barack with providing Hillary with a chance to show how terrific she is. Then he can go back to the Senate and help her pass her policy agenda.

  13. Of course they are going to lie about their religious beliefs. Who wouldn’t facing a crowd of pastors and rabbis? Since when did this become a litmus test to qualify as president? Look at the current officeholder who speaks to a “higher father” and see how much improvement that was. If they really were to tell the truth the answer would be: “religion has been responsible for hunger, wars, slavery, subjugation, tyranny, and ignorance. That is why I am running for president. To put an end to this nonsense. And no, I do not think about God 24/7 because that would border on the delusional. Anymore questions?”

  14. how do you know they lied, Pat?

  15. Pat: I appreciate what you’re saying but my values were shaped by religion. I consider myself Christian philosophically but only in the simplest terms because some times the most powerful messages *are* the simplest. Yes, it is true that religion can be destructive. But some compassionate people I know are religious. We all come to our values, ethics, path from different places. It is important to call them on it when some of them stray from simple gifts to self righteousness. But we all experience the universe and all that is in it differently. There’s nothing wrong with that.
    Sermon for today: The pharisee and the publican . Ohhh, if only Obama had paid attention to that one.

  16. Riverdaughter – your post is so nice to read. i am glad you and your partner were well treated. PA is a nice State so I am not suprised.

    Never give up.

  17. rd: Ah, yes, I remember that one. Obama should have read it before he spoke on “billionaire’s row.” Pride goeth before a fall.

  18. You were right Judy to question me on how I know they were lying. I don’t. What I should have said is they were pandering to this crowd in an attempt to pass their religious bona fides. I guess I let my anger and frustration over this forum on CNN overtake my own commonsense that religion does play in role in people’s lives but this type of questioning is outlawed in any job interview outside of the presidency.

  19. judith: I am a native Pennsylvanian and my mom lives in the Harrisburg area. All of my other relatives live in the Pittsburgh area. I am well acquainted with the friendliness of Pennsylvanians and it is always a pleasure to go back and feel the niceness.
    Pennsylvanians are savvy. They know the score and they know who the best candidate is. I trust them to make the right decision. But it would be so nice if we could turn Cumberland and Dauphin counties over for Clinton. It’s a challenge. Yes, that would just about make my decade. ;-)

  20. Pat: I hear you. But I think I know why they chose this forum. Central PA is a good pick-up opportunity for both of them and it is also a Bible Belt. As I said before, Messiah College is not like Regent Univerisity. It was founded by Mennonites and Wesleyans. As a Methodist, Hillary is probably closer, philosophically, to this crowd even though she is not an evangelical. Messiah has a legitimate degree program, has a good reputation and trains their students to question and come to their own conclusions about their faith. As Christian colleges go, they really should be commended on their willingness to push a student to risk everything and come back to their spiritual roots. Messiah College is one of the good guys.
    That being said, Central PA is Obama territory because of the AA population of Harrisburg and the high number of Republicans. But this is the chance for Clinton to show her human side to Central PA voters. I like the fact that she said her natural reserve made it sometimes difficult for her to speak about such things. I think a lot of people can relate to that. But her whole life has been about inclusiveness and serving the poor and disadvantaged and that is very Christian and should have a lot of appeal to Central PA voters. Nevertheless, she has to show that there is a line to be drawn between religion and government and that is what her party is all about. One does not exclude the other. Each can respect and exist in harmony with the other. Her job is to convince Central PA voters that she respects them for their devotion to the principles of Christianity and would never interfere with it and to recognize the limits of government and religion and that both are stronger when they draw upon but are independent of the other.

  21. Obama’s Lessons to be Learned: Odinga Yields in Kenya, Positions Himself for Next Election
    Posted on April 13, 2008 by GRL

    In a previous post, I discussed the link between Obama and Raila Odinga and the almost eerie demands by Odinga for a 50-50 split of cabinet posts in Kenya. It now appears that a compromise has been worked out…

    According to the BBC, a power-sharing agreement was reached on Saturday. Odinga, apparently, is more willing to compromise than his cousin (?) Obama.

    MORE…

    *******************
    Sigh…if only, if only….

  22. Pat, my name is Judith.

  23. Riverdaughter, I didnt know you were from PA. Nice! I used to travel around the State a lot for Biz. My sister lived in Pittsburgh when she was first married.

    The big cities have gone through a lot of changes over time – up and down – lotsa down in some parts as I know you know. But I honestly think it is overall one of the nicest bunch of people in the country.

    Again – thanks for the effort that I cant personally make.

  24. What I fear now more than ever is that the GOP Democrats for a Day will come out in full force to help Obama in the popular vote.

    One branch of my entire family is rabidly Republican and they’ve all donated the maximum amount to Obama’s campaign and vigorously campaign for him. All to knock out Clinton and guarantee a huge win for McCain.

  25. Oh, and a big thank you to RD and everyone from the Hillary camp. I know how hard volunteers and staff work on campaigns.

    Again, thank you.

  26. Pat –

    There are sincere religious people in this country and because of the Wright connection to Obama’s campaign, religion has again shown up as a key item of conversation. Personally I do not enjoy listening to politicians discuss it this way – Obama’s comment about Democrats who prefer discretion notwithstanding – but I do not assume they are either lying or pandering.

    Of course, pretending that Wright is NOW not on par with being a family member but just his pastor (will Granny once more sit at the head of the table?) does show that he has woken up to how badly he will be beaten over the head with him if he gets to the GE.

  27. Don’t get too wound up about Dems for a day here in PA voting against Hillary. That swings both ways.

    I personally handed out 5 voter registration forms to Republicans to change to Democrats so they could vote against Obama and for Hillary (mostly for Hillary).

  28. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest riverdaughter readers look at Michael Goodwin’s article.
    Snob-ama slight a big-time error. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2008/04/13/2008-04-13_snobama_slight_a_bigtime_error.html
    ————————————————————————————————————————————-
    I say Obama is not honest, not sensitive, and not spiritual in any authentic form. His expressed convictions don’t come from a place of inner reflection or moral conscience. He is superficial. Otherwise, Tabula Rasa Obama could not in the words of Goodwin – “in one sentence….de-legitimize every choice people in America are free to make.” I say he is not an empathic man, which means he has little genuine conscience. Obama is blind to his soaring hubris that identifies with the rantings of Rev. Wright, or he consciously, cleverly, manipulates the vulnerable. Either way, he is dangerous. His creepy associations, and his over-the-top evasive, cunning, duplicitous qualities make him unfit to be the Democratic nominee or President of the United States. Yes, he patronizes from Elitism, then worms himself out of it while he preaches to his choir. Obama himself, and his media biased supporters don’t want to or can’t understand real Elitism. I say, Elitism is in one’s dark heart, not in one’s bulging (or empty) pocketbook or in one’s level of education. Elitism is an Attitude of arrogance, a duplicity of words, a patronizing, an Orwellian Double-Speak, all intended to manipulate in the quest for power and ever increasing hubris. Any real leader must have love in his heart. Any real leader must have the ability to self-reflect. But without conscience and empathy and humility, there is no love. Obama’s little “compassion”, little intelligence, and little ability to speak coherently in depth, as he evidenced again in tonight’s CNN’s forum, does not come close to the strength, elegance, and humanity of Hillary Clinton. Obama is a fake.

    also posted on noquarterusa.net/blog

  29. Oh, gosh — have you seen this?

    Obama mocks Hillary.

    I don’t know what he’s thinking to say this stuff?

  30. katiebird, anyone —

    What kind of regional accent does he have? It’s not anything I recognize.

  31. hlr, I don’t know. It showed up in the ads he ran in Missouri & Kansas, then disappeared for a while. Now it’s back in that video clip.

    My question, does that make a reasonable person see his “side” of the story? After seeing the other video, I think he’s talking about a totally different episode.

  32. The Obama slam is insane, but the OFB is out in full force on it. They’re completely distorting Clinton’s remarks that she learned how to shoot a gun from her father and that even though she’s not a hunter that she respects hunting culture.

    Check out the comments section. Extreme!

  33. hlr –
    It seems Obama’s “preacher” like accent is a mix of what he has heard from pulpits. Sometimes, he is “Wright” or similar preachers. Sometimes, he attempts to sound like ML King. He does not know his own voice…..he does not have his own voice… He is a mask … An empty shell is …. well ….. empty…..

  34. katiebird: My question, does that make a reasonable person see his “side” of the story?

    He comes across as upset because *he* screwed something up.

  35. I should add: Clinton mentioned that she went duck hunting but again, she made sure to state, that she’s not a hunter.

  36. She should have just left it at learning to shoot. Now everyone is going to want to know if she *really* hunted ducks, when, how many times, and if she shot any. And the answer to the last question had better be “yes” …

  37. I believe she said she went duck hunting in Arkansas. I, too, wished she had left it at learning how to shoot and telling people she’s not a hunter, but respects their culture.

    Still, Obama shot himself in the foot again because he made some rather ignorant remarks about duck hunting in his attack (e.g., type of gun used).

  38. Katiebird–

    I couldn’t watch the whole video because my stomach was turning. I think the way of talking that Obama is affecting is his Malcolm X-played-by-Denzel-Washington accent. It sounds similar to his “bamboozled, hoodwinked” rant. If he is elected president, I am NOT going to be able to listen to his speeches and press conferences any more than I can stand to listen to George W. Bush’s. What a phony he is!

  39. Well, at least the people in Harrisonburg don’t suffer the bitterness inherent to the disappointments of life in small towns. We can give thanks for that.

  40. Riverdaughter,

    Thanks for the great rundown on your weekend of canvassing for Hillary. It’s so frustrating being out here on the west coast and not being able to help in PA. So, thank you for the great work that you’re doing since I can’t be there to do it myself.

  41. As an Edwards supporter until he suspended his campaign who voted for Obama on Super Tuesday, I want to thank Riverdaughter for this lovely report. This is what patriotism looks like at its best. I think you must be a wonderful asset to the Clinton campaign. As a Democratic voter for more years than you have probably been alive, I just wanted to say you make proud to be a Democrat and proud to be an American.

    I should also explain that none of the reasons I voted for Obama had anything to do with the hateful attacks against both Clintons that have been going on through-out this campaign. Nor do I think that Hillary should drop out or be pushed out of running until she decides her campaign is at an end.

    I would like to voice a cautionary note to some of the commentators here. Obama may have his limitations, but the frontal attacks on his fundamental integrity strike me as quite as out of place as those so often voiced about Hillary, and yes, I know that the voicing is being done, now, not only by the SCLM, but by Obama supporters, and that much of this has also come from the campaign.

    Still, in re: to Vincent’s comment,, and please don’t take this as a reprimand, but it has been one of the standard knocks against Hillary for some years now, that she has more than one way of speaking, depending on who her audience is. In fact, this is a favorite of Chris Matthews; it is apparently news to him that someone who lived in Arkansas for more than a decade might just have picked up some southern lilt and locutions, which become more pronounced when her audience is southern. The same goes for the notion that her quoting from an African-American hymn and using the dialect in which it was written, one that is perfectly understandable to every American, was somehow patronizing her black audience. It’s an easy jump for right-wingers to make, since they have nothing but contempt for the notion that the American language is multi-cultural, not because political correctness would deem it so, but as a matter of concrete fact.

    Obama has many influences on his speech patterns, as we all do.

    One of these two candidates is going to be the Democratic candidate for president, and it is counter-productive to the cause of keeping McCain out of the presidency to view either candidate as fundamentally too flawed to represent the Democratic Party and a better choice for the country than is McCain.

  42. riverdaughter is a hottie!

    Global Warming Alarmists Beware… http://www.EvilCarbon.com

  43. [...] On the Ground in PA Today, we continued our persuasive canvassing of Central PA. Before I go any further, I have to tell you that the [...] [...]

  44. Well, sorry, Leah, I 100% can’t stand Obama, and I can not see one thing he has done in his entire life that merits the job of president.

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