Here's a sure sign that at least some voters are paying attention to the furor over Barack Obama's comments about "bitter" small-town folks: At least two presidential campaigns are using the fuss to raise money.
Strangely enough, one of them is Obama's Democratic team, even though he has been the one under strong criticism for having precipitated the controversy when he said some people cling to religion and guns to relieve their frustrations during hard times. His critics said that remark was condescending.
But David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, is trying to turn the tables and rally Obama's troops. In an E-mailed fundraising appeal being sent out this week (entitled "Who's out of touch?"), Plouffe says: "The attacks from the [Hillary] Clinton campaign—on Barack Obama himself, and on supporters like you—can be expected to increase as her chances of winning dwindle further. A few weeks ago, one of her top aides tried to diminish our success by referring to the places we've won as 'boutique' states and to our supporters as the 'latte-sipping crowd.' That means 30 states and territories—twice as many as Senator Clinton has won—qualify as 'boutique.'...It's clear that Senator Clinton will continue to say or do anything as her campaign gets more and more negative."
Plouffe also criticized Republican candidate John McCain for "peddling fake outrage."
Meanwhile, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent out a "Dear Friends" E-mail of his own, requesting contributions and arguing that Obama is displaying "out-of-touch beliefs" about small-town America.
Howard Wolfson, a senior Clinton adviser, says the Clinton campaign has no plans to use the issue to raise money, as of now, but didn't rule it out.
The two Democratic hopefuls have also squared off over religious beliefs in advance of the crucial Pennsylvania primary on April 22.
—Kenneth T. Walsh