McCain Bets Straight Talk Will Beat 'Bitter'

Amanda Carpenter

4/14/2008 11:41:12 AM - Amanda Carpenter

GOP presidential candidate John McCain is betting his brand of “straight talk” will be more popular with moderates and independents who may be turned off by comments like those recently made by Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.

“I believe in giving great access to the press” McCain said at the Associated Press’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

McCain promised more availability to reporters and to spend time in communities “that do not frequently see a candidate for President.” His campaign is calling the travel schedule a open-access “Forgotten Parts of America Tour” where McCain is expected to reach out to blighted inner cities, rural sections of Appalachia and traditionally Democratic African-American areas.

“I prefer the town hall format to other forms of communication with the voters,” McCain said.

He doesn’t expect the tour to go smoothly. “I will screw up sometimes, and, frankly, so will you,” McCain told journalists at the AP forum. “But on the whole, you, I and, most importantly, the American people are better served by the openness and accountability that direct, lengthy and frequent exchanges with the press produces. And I will take my chances with you and trust in the American people to get it right in the end.”

Last week, at a private San Francisco fundraiser, Obama said he believed “bitter” people in places like Pennsylvania “cling to guns and religion” because of poor economic circumstances. McCain shot back at Obama at the AP event. The Arizona Senator said that during the Great Depression Americans “rose from small towns, rural communities, inner cities, a generation of Americans who fought to save the world from despotism and mass murder, and came home to build the wealthiest, strongest and most generous nation on Earth” and did not “turn to their religious faith and cultural traditions out of resentment and a feeling of powerlessness to affect the course of government or pursue prosperity.”

“On the contrary, their faith had given generations of their families purpose and meaning, as it does today,” McCain said. “And their appreciation of traditions like hunting was based in nothing other than their contribution to the enjoyment of life.”

A poll released Monday by the American Research Group shows Obama dropped eight points in Pennsylvania after he made comments about guns and religion. In an ARG poll conducted before Obama’s remarks were released Obama and Clinton were tied 45 percent to 45 percent. A new ARG poll, conducted April 11-13, gives Clinton a 20 point edge. Clinton polled 57 percent, Obama 37 percent.

The Pennsylvania primary will be held on April 22.

Clinton is expected to take the Keystone state, but even with the state’s 188 delegates she will still trail Obama in delegates and the popular vote. After Pennsylvania Clinton and Obama will go on to compete in North Carolina and Indiana on May 6.