Obama faces racism in West Virginia
Many blue collar Democrats are not ready for a black president
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST, TRNN: I’m in Martinsburg here in West Virginia, one of the poorest and whitest states in the union. Senator Clinton is expected to win today’s primary in a landslide, and the white, blue collar workers who make up her base have said they might be unwilling to vote for Senator Obama come general election.
SHARON, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I’m very much for Hillary, and I’m not hiding it. But I do feel that if Barack ends up being [inaudible] this election, then I’m going to have to maybe vote Republican or not vote at all.
TRACY, CLINTON SUPPORTER: My opinion is I think the United States of America should be run by somebody from the United States of America.
PALEVSKY: But he’s from the US. He’s born here. He’s been raised here.
TRACY: And he’s Muslim.
PALEVSKY: But why do you think he’s Muslim? He wasn’t raised Muslim.
TRACY: But I don’t agree with that.
JANET: You feel like there’s a lie behind it.
TRACY: Yeah, I don’t agree with that.
PALEVSKY: Do you think that’s a smear tactic in politics, to label him as a Muslim?
TRACY: I think it is a smear tactic.
PALEVSKY: I mean, but—.
JANET: Do you?
TRACY: Yeah, I do think it’s a smear tactic, but I think we have the right to know. I mean, I think we have the right to know everything in their background.
PALEVSKY: Do you usually vote Democrat or Republican?
DAN: Democrat all the way. My daddy would kick my behind, okay, if I did not vote for a Democrat.
PALEVSKY: But if it comes down to Barack Obama as the nominee, you probably won’t vote Democrat.
DAN: No. No, sir.
PALEVSKY: So whom would you vote for today?
BRENDA, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Obama.
PALEVSKY: Why Obama?
BRENDA: ‘Cause we need a change.
PALEVSKY: And what do you think he’ll provide for the country?
BRENDA: A better world.
PALEVSKY: And do you think West Virginia will come out for Obama when it comes to the general?
BRENDA: No. There’s too many rednecks here in West Virginia.
STANLY, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Right now, we’re still dealing with so much prejudice right now that that’s what’s hurting the Black man.
BRENDA: Years ago, I used to be a member of city council. So I know what was doomed in this town and what’s not doomed. And the doom part is there’s still a lot of racism going on.
PALEVSKY: Many Democrats have used euphemisms to describe why they’re not willing to vote for Barack Obama, some saying that they just don’t know him well enough or they’re not comfortable with him, while others have come straight out and said they don’t want a Black president.
SHARON: That’s the problem. I don’t know where he stands. You know, I don’t feel comfortable, whereas I know Hillary knows what "The Pledge of Allegiance" is. Hillary knows, can probably sing "The Star Spangled Banner" better than anybody. So can John McCain. At least I know that they believe in this country. They believe in who we are and how when times are bad we pull together, ’cause we’re Americans. But the whole Yankeee-do-it ethic, you know, I just don’t sense that from him.
PALEVSKY: Why would you vote for McCain over Obama?
CANDICE, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Because I think McCain’s got more experience of being a president than what Barack Obama does.
PALEVSKY: Have you ever voted for a Republican before?
CANDICE: No. I’m straight Democrat.
PALEVSKY: Would you trust him? If he gets the nomination, would you vote for him?
GLADIS, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Not really, ’cause I’m not going to vote for somebody that I’ve never saw or known.
PALEVSKY: Will you get behind Obama if he does win the nomination?
PALEVSKY: Why not?
TRACY: No. I’ll go Republican.
PALEVSKY: You would vote for McCain.
PALEVSKY: And why? Why that decision for you?
TRACY: I just—I just don’t agree. That’s—I’ll just leave it at that. I just don’t agree that he should be president of the United States.
PALEVSKY: And you voted for—
ASHLEY: Hillary. And if she loses the nomination I’ll vote for the other guy.
PALEVSKY: You’ll vote for McCain?
ASHLEY: Yes. I don’t feel like—put the black man there—no prejudice or nothing but I just don’t have—I just think he should not be there.
PALEVSKY: The battle here in West Virginia suggests that Obama can’t depend on the Party’s white blue collar base come November. But its also shown that its message of change resonate with a new segment of voters who never before consideredsupporting a Democrat.
JANET, LIFELONG REPUBLICAN: If it comes to—between Obama and McCain I will vote for Obama. If it comes [inaudible] Hillary clinton and McCain I will vote McCain.
PALEVSKY: Why Obama? Why a Democrat this time?
JANET: I think, we need a change.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.