Obama's Bitter Lesson

Barack Obama's ill-chosen words have caused a stir, but both candidates face challenges with working-class white voters. Why that could cost the Democrats the White House

Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

A man sits inside the "Ready to Work" Employment office and watches as U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama arrives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

It's hard to know which was worse about Barack Obama's dismissal of small-town voters as narrow-minded, churchgoing gun nuts: the original arrogance of his remarks or his repeated attempts to explain them. If there was any consolation to a campaign facing its most serious test yet, it was that attempts by both Hillary Clinton and John McCain to make hay at his expense did not go over very well either--which just serves as one more reminder of the challenge politicians face when they talk to and about voters who have lost the most in the economic earthquakes of the past 25...

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