Former President Barack Obama admitted in his new memoir “Promised Land” that he regrets belittling working class Americans from small towns on the campaign trail back in 2008, when he said they were “bitter” and clinging to “guns and religion.”
During a fundraising event in San Francisco, California in April of 2008, Obama was caught on a recording making some off-the-cuff comments about white working-class Americans from small towns.
Obama reportedly said that many small towns across the Midwest had seen jobs disappear decades ago “and nothing’s replaced them.”
“And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not,” Obama said, according to Fox News. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
The comments immediately backfired on him when Hillary Clinton, his opponent against him in the Democratic primary, used them against him. She said that Obama’s “remarks are elitist and out of touch.”
Obama wrote in his memoir that he wishes he could take what he said in 2008 back.
“It’s not surprising then that they get frustrated … and they look to the traditions and way of life that have been constants in their lives, whether it’s their faith, or hunting, or blue-collar work, or more traditional notions of family and community,” he wrote. “And when Republicans tell them we Democrats despite these things — or when we give these folks reason to believe that we do — then the best policies in the world don’t matter to them.”
Obama went on to claim that he really feels this way, and that he has lots of regrets “about this string of poorly chosen words,” not because of the media backlash. Instead, he said he wishes he hadn’t said this because the remarks have been used ever since as evidence that he “failed to understand or reach out to working-class white people, even when the positions I took and policies I championed consistently indicated the contrary.”