Sen. Hillary Clinton came to the heart of two Barack Obama constituencies yesterday, rolling out a crime plan in West Philadelphia, and telling young voters at Drexel University that Obama had in effect insulted Pennsylvanians.
"It's being reported that my opponent said the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter," Clinton said. "Well that's not my experience . . . Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them. They need a president who stands up for them!"
Clinton was referring to comments Obama made at a San Francisco fundraiser, as reported (and recorded) by Mayhill Fowler of the Huffington Post.
Obama was explaining to donors why he faces a challenge in appealing to white working class voters, and he said many people in industrial areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio "have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it."
". . . And it's not surprising," Obama said, "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."
Speaking in Terre Haute, Ind., last night, Obama rejected criticism from Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, saying, "People are fed-up. They're angry and they're frustrated and they're bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that's why I'm running for president."
Clinton took other swipes at Obama in her Drexel speech, saying that hers was a campaign "about solutions, not speeches. It's about results, not rhetoric."
Earlier this week, Clinton ran a radio ad attacking an Obama television commercial in which he said he didn't take money from oil companies.
Clinton's more aggressive posture came just 11 days before the Pennsylvania primary, where many polls have showed her lead over Obama narrowing to single digits.
Yesterday Republican Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter told CNN he thinks Obama will win the state, though no poll has showed him leading Clinton.
Though Obama has polled well among younger voters, the atrium of Drexel's main building was packed with enthusiastic young Hillary supporters.
Earlier in the day, Clinton came to a YMCA near 52nd and Chestnut streets, an area of strong Obama support, to roll out her anti-crime plan.
Her voice showed emotion as she somberly acknowledged mothers of murder victims in the audience holding pictures of their dead children.
"[I see] a young woman in her commencement gown graduating from school, a young man with a great smile on his face," Clinton said. "These are not just statistics. These are our children."
Clinton promised to cut murder rates in large cities in half.
Her plan, detailed in yesterday's Daily News, includes federal funding for more cops, re-entry programs for ex-offenders, and after-school and youth programs.
Clinton has talked about many elements of the plan in the past - as has Obama - but she's refined some points and gave it a $4 billion price tag, which she said can be covered by the elimination of "corporate subsidies."
After delivering her crime plan to an audience of about 200, Hillary strolled along Chestnut Street and worked the crowd at a small diner. While she was at Drexel, her daughter Chelsea took questions from about 200 students at an event at Temple.