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Rockefeller Reflects on W.Va. Voters, Obama's Chances

U.S. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) on Capitol Hill, April 7, 2008. (Getty Images)

By Shailagh Murray
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV cautioned not to read too much into Sen. Barack Obama's expected loss in West Virginia today. To make the point, he recounted his own political career.

"I came in from the outside, and it took a long time for West Virginians to accept me as being for real and being for them," said Rockefeller, who has endorsed Obama. "Obviously they've known the Clintons for a long time. It took me longer, and it'll take Barack longer."

Both were perceived as outsiders in an insular state, Rockefeller said, although beyond that, the comparison gets a little fuzzy. Rockefeller's great-grandfather was an oil billionaire, and his grandfather built Rockefeller Center. Uncle Nelson was governor of New York. Rockefeller arrived in West Virginia in mid-1960s as a VISTA volunteer. From 1966-1972, he served as a state legislator and secretary of state.

"Then I ran for governor and I got killed. And then everybody thought I was going to leave, but I didn't, because I was in love with the state. So four years after I lost by the biggest margin in the history of West Virginia, I won by the biggest margin in West Virginia. And that tells you something."

Rockefeller said the key for Obama will be to convey to West Virginians this summer and fall how much they stand to lose out in federal largesse, if John McCain wins the presidency. "He's all for people doing everything for themselves," the senator said. "He should do very, very badly there. We depend on the federal government for a lot."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 13, 2008; 2:12 PM ET
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JakeD must be from West Virgina you know all that inbreeding

Posted by: sorne | May 15, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

The people least able to 'ride out' another four years of Republican rule are the ones who seem hell bent on keeping them in power!

Someone should make it clear to the Hillbillies of West Virginia and Kentucky that Obama's policies will help THEM more than anyone else. John McCain is the real elitist!

What a bunch of retards!

Posted by: Tomaso Q | May 14, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

cant we all just get alone OBAMA 08

Posted by: latangy | May 13, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Would make a good President if everyoneone would just give him a chance.
It;s not about his color or what kind of shoes he wears. We are at a time that we need some one in the white house that can handle America,We need help as a people as a whole, ITs time out for all this Black ,white thing we need to unite not fall apart and thats whats been happenong for the last 8 years we all as one people have been lead down the street of lies.ITS TIME FOR CHANGE ITS TIME FOR OBAMA

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

If Obama's "electability" v. HRC is in question and he, the upstart Senator against the entrenched "inevitability" of the Clinton machine (remember that?), is winning what does that make her?

I think the Democrats will be just fine in the Fall no matter who the nominee is. Clinton, if she loses (and FL and MI after NC/IN are no longer looking like game-changers), is smart enough to know that for her to remain politically strong going forward, she will campaign strong for the winning nominee (whether Veep or not) to help in bringing together all these constituencies. Any hint of half-heartedness will doom her in the Democratic party and any alternate-world fantasies of making a third party run will only cause her to lose her Senate seat and doom her to the fringe with the Green party.

Hmmm. Maybe Jay Rockefeller for VP??? ;)

Posted by: tr | May 13, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

W.Va. exit polls show division among Dems

Almost as many of Hillary DIANE Clinton's West Virginia supporters would vote for John SIDNEY McCain as would for Barack HUSSEIN Obama in November, exit polls show. A big win for Clinton in the state today could raise doubts about Obama's electability. full story:

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Hahahahahahahaah - oh that Rockefeller feller...he's a hoot. No - Hillary voters will not support Obama just cuz it's Thanksgiving.

Hahahahahahahahaahahaahaaaa - what a funny guy.

Posted by: Gloria | May 13, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Hahahahahahahaah - oh that Rockefeller feller...he's a hoot. No - Hillary voters will not support Obama just cuz it's Thanksgiving.

Hahahahahahahahaahahaahaaaa - what a funny guy.

Posted by: Gloria | May 13, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Hillary supporters, don't be shortsighted. This election is as much about the Supremes as it is the President. Maybe more. The Prez can serve for at most 8 years. Tenure on the Supreme Court is a "life sentence".

We will have the chance to bring back a degree of balance to the Court by electing a Dem this fall. And the Court should be balanced. If one side or the other has an ironclad majority, they will vote as an ideological bloc instead of weighing the merits of the case.

It would be foolish to vote for McCain out of spite, because he's already promised to pack the court with more of the same.

Posted by: laboo | May 13, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse


I try to keep a sense of humor, especially when I'm golfing -- I will be "getting out" on the links tomorrow -- does that count?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

well, at least Jake D has a sense of humor (but really, you should get out more. The weather's so nice.)

Posted by: gbooksdc | May 13, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

What is most telling about the Clinton campaign is the fact that it was so poorly managed from the very beginning. Unbridle hubris and a sense of entitlement caused Sen. Clinton and her staff to make decisions that clearly did not take into consideration the possibility of her opponents running a better campaign. The irony is that while she ran a more typical republican campaign of "fat-cat" donors, she was actually beat by a campaign strategy rooted in "grass-root" organizing, a tradition of the democratic party.

She has continued to run a "republican" strategy to the point where it is almost unclear as to whether she is running as a democrat or as John McCain's running mate (humm....could it be?). I will acknowledge that her tactics have clearly allowed Sen. Obama to better prepare for a general elections, but her strategy has also stirred up the sad reality of racial politics - another irony given her history.

Some would argue that this democratic primary season has been good for the party, because it has caused many to get registered and vote. I'm not so sure given all of the ugliness that has also resulted.

We have Americans being killed in two wars for reasons I'm still trying to understand. These brave men and women come from parts of our country where they are ALL hardworking. Not just "white Americans" but all Americans particularly those in uniform willing to die for a cause we ALL should have been MORE reluctant to support. The reality is that on the battlefield, bullets don't separate between hardworking whites and non-hardworking, it would be nice if our media organizations and candidates didn't do the same.

It would also be nice if we had candidates that understood that as leaders they ALL have a responsibility to UNITE us beyond our racial / religious / gender / rich / poor differences. I think this is the least they could do for us as Americans versus thinking of themselves and willing to do and say what they feel is required to get elected.

Posted by: eds | May 13, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Ever heard "The Emperor''s New Clothes"

One see the clothes.
One see the color.
One see the body.


Posted by: jy2008 | May 13, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh Kimberlie,

Your ignorance is precious. Where to begin . . . Oh yes, Obama was running for election in Illinois when he stood up against the war. So you'd be wrong about that. As for being dismissive of WV, I'd like to remind you that Hillary has consistently told us the states Obama won DO NOT COUNT (because they're caucus states, not big enough, not important enough). And to be fair, the media has dismissed WV (not Obama) insofar as the democratic primary has already been mathematically decided. Try looking at all the facts before you post :-)

Posted by: Nuffsaid | May 13, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Kimberle,what about Hillary's big losses to obama earlier in the process. How about Hillary 13 losses in a row. If the tables were turned Obama would have been out a long time ago. Reality check. It's time for the Dems to move on, and beat McCain. People have had enough of the Clinton's and the Boush's.

Posted by: BB | May 13, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse


I have, at least, never said: "Obama is half white so he may be half OK. But he is half black and shouldn't that be an issue?" I think it's obvious which are the "fake" posts, but others could get them mixed up -- for instance, if I started posting outrageous statements using Dan Balz's name, someone seeing it for the first time may attribute those to the fine WaPo writer. Wouldn't it be less confusing if we all simply posted using our OWN names?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

My fellow Americans don't be deceived by the rantings of JakeD.

Yes we all know that race, gender, and age have played a role in this primary season and will play a part in the general election.

Obama started his campaign off with a 50-state strategy. His strategy going forward in the primaries that vote in the general election is to focus on voter registration. A loss in West Virginia primary does not guarantee a loss in the general election. If you look at the Republican West Virginia conventon, Mike Huckabee won West Virginia with 52% compared to Romney's 47%. McCain got 1%. It will be interesting to see how many votes McCain will get from today's West Virginia Republican primary. If Obama garners significantly more votes than McCain, then who cares what Hillary's margin of win over Obama is.

The exit polls should question how a voter would vote based on a ranking system, i.e. first choice, second choice and third choice for president.

Posted by: AJ | May 13, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

It's now wonder things are so bad in WV. the people are in a time warp. Still think Obamas color might might rub off on them. Very sad.

Posted by: Bobby | May 13, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse


According to the Associated Press, Obama has 1,874 total convention delegates to Clinton's 1,697. But if the DNC were to decide to count West Virginia 14 times, it would propel Hillary into the lead. "West Virginia must be counted 14 times", she proclaimed Tuesday.
If Clinton wins 2/3 of the 39 delegates at stake in the West Virigina primary as expected, that will give her a net gain of 13 delegates. If West Virginia were counted 14 times, then that would give her a net gain of 182 delegates, putting her into the lead by 5 total delegates. "We will take this fight all the way to the convention," a defiant Senator Clinton said.

Posted by: Walter | May 13, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

LOL, thought I should just follow up on your bogus line about Fakers. LOL!

You are a bigot JakeD and that fake post is exactly the kind of trash you post here.

Obama is 100% OK and your biased bigotry is pathetic.

Posted by: FAKE JakeD | May 13, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse


You would do better to not post with the SAME EXACT timestamp as me ...

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I am not racist. Obama is half white so he may be half OK. But he is half black and shouldn't that be an issue?

After all so many people have a problem with the fact that he is half black. That's not racist to say that he is black and that it is an issue if people won't vote for him.

Gov. Rendel even said that people aren't ready for a black president yet. Hillary said that she has more support among white folk. Are you saying we are all racist for these statements?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Just don't call me Shirley ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, Mar.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

By playing down expectations, Rockefeller is also protecting his own pride, since his endorsement of Obama has obvously fallen on deaf ears in his state. Also, Rockefeller made some ridiculous comments about Kerry and Gore several weeks ago--that they were too elitist to appeal to blue collar democrats--and criticized others, too. Of course, how could a Rockefeller be elitist? These comments received very little attention (I think they were overshadowed by his obnoxious comments about how McCain didn't have empathy for regular people when he was bombing Vietnam).

Jay hasn't had a silver spoon in his mouth--but his foot!!!

Posted by: Celeste | May 13, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I find it hilarous how the Obama campaign has down played the big lose in West Virgina as if West Virgina does not count. If Obama has this rapped up with a bow then why is Hillary still winning and winning big in these states? Wake up America there are two candiates in this race and either has the magic number. Obama will be crushed come the general election. And, why does the war vote keep surfacing. Obama wasn't even in office to vote either way. Of course it is easy for him to say he would not have voted for the war now. The real problem is he was even there to cast a vote.

Posted by: Kimberlie | May 13, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks JakeD. I just love it when a 70-something old man votes Republican because of his sincere "concern" over women's reproductive CHOICES. Get a life, you might be retired but surely you can find some more positive way to spend your time than spreading your bile all over the WaPo Blogs.

Posted by: Mar | May 13, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Did you know that African-American babies are DISPROPORTIONATELY aborted in the U.S.?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse


So, if a STRONG PRO-LIFER refuses to vote for Obama, that's "racism" too? Interesting.

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The only reason people wouldn't vote for Obama is racism, pure and simple. I am so sick of seeing all these innocent black people being abused by hate-mongering, uneducated whites. I think there should be laws passed against racism. If someone is arrested for and proven a racist, there should be mandatory sentencing. All these idiot whites in the south have a lot of reparations to make.

Posted by: Robert | May 13, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

That's the problem. We have all become too dependent on the government.

Posted by: dsapp | May 13, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Weirdly ineffective argument Mr Rockefeller makes here. It appears WV has slipped a wrench into the Obama Machine.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

It is unbelievable some of the posts here. I now realize why we are #47 in world literacy (Cuba is #3). I can't believe we have so many idiots in this country! I recommend a test prior to people voting, this would weed out the idiots. Hillary's supporters are uneducated, low-income people. I don't know about anybody else, but, if that were me, I would be insulted.

Posted by: Samms-Sherbin | May 13, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"The working people of W. Virginia should embrace Obama for the same reasons every working person should: His policy ideas will serve your interests and McCain's won't.

Ahh a voice of reason.......Obama is more like the people of WV than they think. McCain sure isn't nor is Billary. forget the skin color, and think of the person. Experience, not an issue, Lincoln had the least of experience before becoming president, and arguably was one of the best. So so much for experience. as far as legislation, that isn't much of a criteria, unless you are McCain or Clinton. Clinton is a carpet bagger, and McCain is ancient. Why judge someone on their legislative prowess, when most legislation is meaningless to most Americans anyway. The last eight years we have been controlled by a party that has pillaged the American people, divided them, pit religion against religion, ran our economy into the ground, foreclosed your children's children's future, morally bankrupt our country abroad, and stamped on our personal freedoms under the quise of terrorism. Hillary and McCain voted for the war albeit with faulty or cooked intel. Took forever to admit she did so, only after being confronted, which McCain will NEVER retract. remember the 100 years statement. People decry Obama for going negative, which he didn't do. He only responded. Most of his donors are small contributors not corporate donors. He came from a working class family, not a Muslim as has been stated here. He has been called an elitist, though being not in the same financial class as Hillory or McCain. Yes his middle name is different, not unlike "billy bob" etc. If you don't want to be stereotyped anymore think about voting for "O"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Does "every site" mean "every thread"? I don't post anywhere other than WaPo (and, keep in mind, that there are FAKE JakeD's here too ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Anyone want to make any guesses why Clinton is still running?

I say it's either to save face, given her claims that she's "in it til there's a nominee" or...

Clinton Deadline Looms for Recouping $11 Million Personal Loan

or perhaps...
Hillary Agonistes

Posted by: jencm | May 13, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I will not vote for way. I would vote for McCain first. He is so far removed from President Bush; matter of fact, not in bed with the Christian rights or lobbyists. Plus, he served and is a true American that gave years of his life as a POW. He knows that this country needs to be protected. The last thing we need is a nuclear attack or another 911. The minute our troops are pulled out, we are a baited fish. I would rather have them there than here. Yes, McCain is not the top; however he is far better than Obama and we at least know what he wants to do. One..not raise taxes, two, protect us. We need a leader that can handle change..not make changes.

Posted by: Clarksburg | May 13, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse


JakeD has been very busy spreading his racism all over the place. His life, unfortunately appears to be nothing more than e-racism.

Obama/Biden 2008!

Posted by: dabNY | May 13, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

What "Change to believe in"? I have yet to know that. I don't want an intern in the White House. Three years as a Senator - two campaigning..what can he know? We are living in a different era, plus I don't want my taxes to go up to pay for "not so good quality health care for all". The middle class will pay for this. And as for you Mr. Rockefeller, we don't want another person that we don't know. I am still trying to figure out what you have done for WV for the last 40 years!!! I did not vote for you today.

Posted by: clarksburg | May 13, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse


I notice that you are on every site spreading your racist comments. Get a life! And stop using the internet to promote your racist propaganda!

Posted by: JakeD is an Idiot | May 13, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse


That seems like a selfish reason to me -- I've never been personally impacted by abortion-on-demand, yet I favor STRONG pro-life candidates -- why can't that be what matters at the end of the day?

The Oracle:

Thanks, but I seem to recall you also thought I was registered Republican ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The working people of W. Virginia should embrace Obama for the same reasons every working person should: His policy ideas will serve your interests and McCain's won't.

This race should not be about race or popularity and it sure as heck should not be about fear. This race should be about informed voters voting for the candidate who will serve their interests the best.

I despise Hillary Clinton. But, if she was the nominee I'd vote for her because her policy positions are better for me than those of McCain. And THAT is what matters at the end of the day.

Anyone one in W. Virginia or elsewhere who votes against his or her own interests because he or she thinks Obama is "uppity" is an idiot. Anyone who votes against his or her own interests because Obama is a "Halfrican" is an idiot and a racist.

Just a few years ago, Obama was struggling to make ends meet, pumping his own gas and riding the train in Chicago to save money on parking. He has has a life more like that of the average American than any other candidate in this race can claim. That is CERTAINLY true in comparison with McCain, who flies in his wife's private jet and pretends to be a "regular guy."

Posted by: CommonSenseGuy | May 13, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Nah Jakey. He should not, I can answer that for you. An HillDoggy wont be his VP either.

Posted by: The Oracle | May 13, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

And I am sure there are PLENTY still who do not like or accept Rockefeller.

Posted by: Grandma Dee | May 13, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse


Will it take longer than November for Barack HUSSEIN Obama to be accepted?

Will Obama supporters help pay down Clinton's $20 million debt?

Posted by: JakeD | May 13, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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