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Notes From the Mahoning Valley

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks with workers during a tour of the RMI Titanium Company, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008, in Youngstown, Ohio. (AP.)

By Alec MacGillis
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ohio's economically depressed Mahoning Valley has no shortage of white working-class voters of the sort with whom Hillary Clinton hopes to do well, which is likely why she campaigned here three times in the past few weeks. Some observations from visiting the region:

1. College kids may be with Barack Obama elsewhere, but that's less the case in places where even the optimism of youth can be overcome by harsh economic realities. Students watching election returns at a pizzeria opposite Youngstown State University here snorted when images of Obama came on the screen, and said they had not voted in the primary because they did not care much for either candidate.

"How can you be president if you don't say the Pledge of Allegiance? How can you not swear on the Bible?" said Patrick Smith, 22, a Youngstown native studying hospitality management, repeating, in exaggerated form, not one but two false allegations about Obama that have been virally circulating on the Internet.

His friend Conrad Sander, 19, a pre-medical student from nearby Canfield, said he had seen about 20 minutes of Obama's speech on a recent visit to Youngstown State but had not been impressed. "I don't think he's true to his word. I don't see anything in his background to back up what he's saying," he said. "There are too many promises. It's a speech about promises."

Sitting at a nearby table, Adrian Hubler, a 25-year-old MBA student, chimed in in agreement. "In an ideal world, with no constraints, sure, then you could do it," she said. Obama, she said dismissively, had been visiting so many college campuses because he was looking for "young idealists" to buy his pitch. She wasn't one of them.

2. The notion that Republicans are voting for Hillary Clinton because Rush Limbaugh told them she would be an easier opponent for John McCain is no mere myth. Mark Adovasio, a campus police officer, said he was planning to vote for McCain in the fall but voted for Clinton today, using Limbaugh's logic: "A lot of people say that McCain's got a better chance against Hillary." Pulling the lever for Clinton was hard, he added. "I thought I would never do that," he said.

3. Working-class white voters in Ohio are a tougher nut to crack for Obama than were their equivalents in Wisconsin, where he held his own among that demographic. The reports in the past few days about Obama's economic adviser assuring Canadian officials that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric was partly just politics did not help. At Clinton's office here, working-class voters who had come out to make phone calls on her behalf settled on a phrase to describe Obama's NAFTA stance: "a double cross."

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 4, 2008; 8:07 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , Primaries , The Democrats  
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Posted by: ghanja_goddess | March 5, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am going to be honest. I am a democrat who voted for Obama in Georgia. I still support him and will support him regardless of whatever the Clinton campaign throws against him. The negative attacks against him, whether its the false rumor of his muslim-ness, or the stupid phone ad just makes me not want to get involved in politics. This is why I left the democratic party in 04 and became an independent.

I will happily vote for McCain in the general election over Clinton if she is the nominee. I will NEVER EVER vote for Clinton. I will be apart of the "blackout" that black radio is now calling for if they take this away from Obama. This is wrong.

Apparently, blacks and women arent American enough as Rush Limbaugh says to run the country. I wonder how all the women and blacks in the republican party feel about this.

I do have election fatigue, I was soo proud of this county, I was happy and ready to serve her, make her a better country and to be happy again about where we were going. But thanks to the Clintons everything is bleak again, there is no hope, nothing. Just the same ol, same ol. Racial divides, economic divides.

So, Im done with it all. I have Hope that Obama will pull this through, but realistically he will be so damaged by the Clintons that he will have nearly no chance in the general. Clinton wont win either which I find the only thing to get happy about now. If it does come down to Clinton, McCain and she gets blown out..I will smile and then I will tell everyone in Ohio that voted on fear and racial lines that enjoy more republican control, and more job loss.
I can tell Im getting angry but I will say this. All of you blue collar democrats that vote for Clinton out of fear and dumb racial divides should enjoy this time. Because you wont have your home when the mortgage goes up, you wont have a decent job cause everythings being sent overseas. Your kids wont be able to afford college, and you wont have a president with the middle name "Hussein" ohh noo. But you will have a republican president. You will have a destroyed democratic party, you will have less african americans in the dem party. You will have less young idealistic voters...Youll have more of the is that working for you Ohio? so enjoy Clinton now democrats and the 4 or 5 states that she will win in the primary.

Posted by: ghanja_goddess | March 5, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Interesting comments folks. It amazes me to see how the right wing spin machine clouds reality. I guess you all have the advantage of mere speculation, whereas I have always depended upon having eyes directly on the target.

I traveled the Mahoning valley a great deal for two years, trying to help Marine recruiters make their missions. I am amazed to hear such ignorant trash coming out of Youngstown State, as my reflections on the campus and students, circa 1992 to 93, were pretty positive. I wonder what happened over the past 15 years. Two of my best friends were Youngstown State Grads (Semper Fi, Pat and Matt!) It depresses me to see those who are most in need of a hopeful approach to the problems created by the current administration glibly dismiss serious the efforts of two patriots who want to lift us up from the ashes.

Folks, you might want to take a look at who Marines are supporting. The newly retired Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps has endorsed Sen Obama. Both Sen Clinton and Sen Obama have many retired Marine officers as advisors. Gee, maybe we are all suffering from traumatic brain injury!! Or maybe us guys with multiple combat tours are just "surrender monkeys." I think not, and would love to discuss it in person should you be so inclined.

The bottom line is those who support candidates other than "option R" take seriously that oath to "support and defend the Constitution" and those who are supporting "option R" are shreading that same Constitution. Semper Fidelis (look it up)

Posted by: nrringlee | March 4, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh please, I am a Hillary supporter, but I think all this about Obama not wearing a flag pin or saying the Pledge of Allegiance is right out of the McCarthy era. I didn't vote for Obama, but I respect his right not to wear a flag pin. How do we know he didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Posted by: bghgh | March 4, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Here's how Hillary can spin a possible win in Ohio, "I won the vast majority of the depressed, therefore I earn the right to depress the rest of the states waiting to vote."

Posted by: AverageJane | March 4, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

If my hunch is correct, Obama built himself a bit of a lead in early voting in Texas. They just dumped a half million votes into the counted hopper, and he has 58% of them.

Makes the exit polls today that may show Clinton ahead not as prescient.

Posted by: steveboyington | March 4, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

"How can you be president if you don't say the Pledge of Allegiance? How can you not swear on the Bible?" said Patrick Smith, 22, a Youngstown native studying hospitality management, repeating, in exaggerated form, not one but two false allegations about Obama that have been virally circulating on the Internet."

Obama is winning and lots of knuckleheads believe the lies of the right-wing death-to-truth squads. Just think how he'll do when people get smarter on the lies.

Posted by: steveboyington | March 4, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

any = an

John McCain = John SIDNEY McCain

Posted by: JakeD | March 4, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Alec MacGillis

One, unconfirmed report now translates to confirmation that multiple Republicans are voting for Hillary DIANE Clinton because Rush Limbaugh told them she would be any easier opponent for John McCain? Did you even ask if Mr. Adovasio was registered Republican, or knew about Limbaugh's "directive"?

Posted by: JakeD | March 4, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

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