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Candidates battle for working-class whites

Published: Sat, September 8, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Candidates battle for working-class whites

Associated Press


President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are working feverishly for an increasingly smaller but crucial slice of the electorate — white, working-class voters.

These clock-punching voters — from Iowa’s tiny manufacturing cities to Virginia coal country to pockets of Ohio reliant on the auto industry — are considered the potential tipping point in battleground states that will decide the winner Nov. 6. These voters also are critical to turning less- competitive states such as Michigan into swing states in the final stretch.

Romney is trying to expand what polls show is an advantage for the Republican while Obama hopes to narrow the gap. Both candidates are trying to pit these voters against their opponent by stoking a sense of economic and social unfairness and also by calling on surrogates with stronger ties to these voters. It’s why Romney has seized on Obama’s decision to give states greater flexibility on welfare work requirements and why Obama turned to former President Bill Clinton, long popular with working-class voters, to make the case for his second-term bid.

“In the richest country in the history of the world, this Obama economy has crushed the middle class,” Romney said in accepting the Republican presidential nomination.

Obama counters that Romney’s opposition to a federal bailout of U.S. automakers hurts his chances with working-class whites.

These voters are a hodge-podge of union households and gun-rights advocates, often from rural areas and smaller cities. They are found in a handful of competitive states where neither candidate has an appreciable advantage, including northern Florida and northwest and southeast Ohio. They also are found in key counties in states that have voted Democratic in presidential elections since the 1980s but are seen as more competitive this year. Those include areas outside Madison and Milwaukee in southern Wisconsin, mixed-income suburbs outside Detroit and rural parts of western Pennsylvania.

Neither Romney nor Obama has a natural connection with them.

Both are Harvard- educated and wealthy. But Obama, an African- American raised politically in Chicago’s Democratic network, has struggled with these voters.

Romney, the son of a former governor and car-company president, made a fortune as a private-equity firm executive before serving a term as Massachusetts governor.


1southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 2 years ago

White, working-class voters...the "new" minority.

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276Ytown(1239 comments)posted 2 years ago

President Obama has many times quoted (actually misquoted) Lincoln, a Republican. Why doesn't he use this one?

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

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3franc004(71 comments)posted 2 years ago

76: Lincoln didn't say that William Boeckter did but it's a good quote. Also, how come no one ever talks about the Republican class warfare that pits working class private employees against working class public, black against white, gay against straight, and the list goes on...

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476Ytown(1239 comments)posted 2 years ago

franc: I stand corrected. According to snopes, it's also been attributed to Lincoln by many, including Reagan.

In 1942, a leaflet entitled "Lincoln on Limitation." was published. On one side was a Lincoln quote. On the other, Boetcker's. Later printings somehow omitted his byline.

Thanks to Boetcker for words of wisdom as pertinent today as they were in his day!

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