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Monday, April 14, 2008

Is "bitter" sticking in Nort Carolina?

From NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann
GOLDSBORO, NC -- As is evident from political journalists' email boxes today, the Clinton campaign appears to believe it's found a silver bullet -- served with a side of brie and chardonnay -- in Obama's recent controversial comments.

On the same day that Obama's opponents keep their eyes peeled for outrage from small-town America, Bill Clinton is doing a marathon six-stop campaign day in rural eastern North Carolina, a swing billed by one supporter as a "Barbeque Tour."

But the issue doesn't seem to be sticking. Clinton himself has been silent on the issue. But at the first two events of the day, the campaign has sent one of Carolina's hometown boys out to push the issue before Clinton takes the stage. Tom Hendrickson, a Clinton supporter and former Democratic Party chairman, included a reading of Obama's comments in his introduction of Clinton.

"Senator Obama, don't pity us and think that we're bitter and frustrated," he said in Winterville this morning. "We are hard-working family folks who are smart, and we get it. We don't need pundits to tell us what to think."

Hendrickson repeated the sentiment at a later stop in Winston, but dropped the direct mention of Obama as the source of the quote.

In both instances, Hendrickson's speech evidenced little reaction from the crowd, which had been waiting for the main event for over an hour, and appeared to have little tolerance for a parade of surrogates.

By the third stop of the day in Goldsboro, Hendrickson did not even take the stage.

In Goldsboro, close observers noticed a (light) smattering of stickers being worn by attendees. "I'm not bitter!" read the simple rectangular label on the lapels of a couple dozen in the crowd. The campaign says that the stickers are evidence of outrage at the grassroots level.

Yet it's unclear how spontaneous the sentiment was. A boxful of the stickers was spotted at Clinton's first event of the day -- being whisked backstage.

*** UPDATE *** The Clinton campaign in NC takes responsibility for the stickers, per a campaign aide, but says that the idea originally came from a volunteer.

Stickers have been distributed by volunteers -- given a "green light" by staff -- at four of Bill Clinton's events yesterday.

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