COMMENTS: White Workers' Gas Tanks

On the eve of the vote in North Carolina and Indiana, the Democratic candidates' closing arguments were "all about the price of gas," observed NBC's Andrea Mitchell. CBS anchor Katie Couric grabbed brief one-on-one interviews with each of them. Hillary Rodham Clinton explained her plan to grant motorists a tax holiday at filling stations as an attack on Big Oil: "We should make the oil companies pay the gas tax this summer." Barack Obama dismissed her plan as "a phony approach. It is a gimmick. This is a typical Washington response, trying to get through the next election."

Rodham Clinton, the "multimillionaire former First Lady," was teased by ABC's Jake Tapper for having "repackaged herself as a working class hero…the new populist." She has hardened her stance against free trade and softened her stance for gun control. Tapper quoted her newfound disdain for policy wonks: "Elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans." NBC's Mitchell pointed out that her husband Bill had turned "folksier" in North Carolina, "in New Bern, Zebulon, Smithfield and Jacksonville, practically going door-to-door selling his wife's gas tax holiday."

Rodham Clinton's populism seemed not to be targeted at the entire working class--only at one racial segment of it. CBS' Jim Axelrod saw Rodham Clinton casting herself as the "tough and gritty champion" of blue collar "white" voters. ABC's Tapper, too, called her target demographic the "white" working class. When CBS' Couric asked Obama about his relative weakness among those "white" working class voters, he replied: "This issue has come up lately because it is the only argument that Sen Clinton has for winning the nomination."

ABC's Terry Moran (embargoed link) followed Obama through "another marathon day of campaigning" starting before dawn in Evansville. He noted "a rare flash of anger" when Obama was called an "elitist." He shot back that John McCain was an admiral's son and the Rodham Clinton was raised in Chicago's rich suburbs. As for the horse race, CBS' Dean Reynolds called Indiana "tight" and North Carolina "tight too" with a once-double-digit lead for Obama "nerve-wrackingly narrowed."


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