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Obama Addresses "Bitter," Clinton Hits Back

It didn't take long for the comments made by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) at a San Francisco fundraiser last weekend to become fodder for tonight's debate.

Asked by Charlie Gibson whether he understood why some people would be offended by his comments -- about "bitter" victims of small-town economic distress clinging to their religion and guns -- Obama reiterated his past statements that he had simply misspoken and that his remarks did not reflect his personal views about small town residents.

"There is no doubt that I can see how people were offended," he said. " It is not the first time I have made a statement that was mangled up and it won't be the last."

Clinton was not ready to let the issue drop, calling Obama's statement a "fundamental misunderstanding" of why people are religious or value their right to own a gun. "I just don't believe that is how people live their lives," Clinton added.

End of story? Not even close.

Obama, clearly loaded for bear on this issue coming into the debate, evoked Clinton's 1992 comment that she would not simply stay at home and bake cookies as first lady as evidence that politicians occasionally misspeak and that it is wrong to conclude that a misstatement represents the true feelings of a politician.

"The problem we have in our politics is you take one person's statement if it's not properly phrased and you just beat it to death," said Obama. "That's what Senator Clinton has been doing over the last four days."

Clinton, of course, responded -- noting that her comments about Obama as an elitist did not come out of thin air but rather developed as a result of his remarks to a group of donors in San Francisco.

Bitter Battle #1 has been fought. The Fix thinks it was a draw -- although Obama gets points for sticking in the shiv with his "baking cookies" reference.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 16, 2008; 8:35 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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