Leonard Simpson is an unapologetic moron:
Like most people in Mingo County, West Virginia, Leonard Simpson is a lifelong Democrat. But given a choice between Barack Obama and John McCain in November, the 67-year-old retired coalminer would vote Republican.
“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides.
Mr Simpson’s remarks help explain why Mr Obama is trailing Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, by 40 percentage points ahead of Tuesday’s primary election in the heavily white and rural state, according to recent opinion polls.
The media just got done spending nearly two straight months running clips of Barack Obama’s Christian minister in an endless loop on television. If you can’t make the connection that Barack Obama and his wife are Christians after that kind of saturation coverage, then you are willfully stupid.
Josh Fry, a 24-year-old ambulance driver from Williamson, insisted he was not racist but said he would feel more comfortable with Mr McCain, the 71-year-old Vietnam war hero, in the White House. “I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president,” he said.
Well, what is that supposed to mean?
None of the 22 Democrats interviewed by the Financial Times at the Clinton rally would commit themselves to voting for Mr Obama if he became the nominee, and half said they definitely would not. The depth of opposition is particularly striking considering that Mingo County is one of the most Democratic places in West Virginia, having cast about 85 per cent of its votes for the party in the 2006 midterm elections. If Mr Obama cannot win there in November, he has little chance of carrying the state.
Most people questioned said they mistrusted Mr Obama because of doubts about his patriotism and “values”, stemming from his cosmopolitan background, his exotic name and the controversy surrounding “anti-American” sermons by Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Several people said they believed he was a Muslim – an unfounded rumour that has circulated on the internet for months – despite the contradiction with his 20-year membership of Mr Wright’s church in Chicago. Others mentioned his refusal to wear a Stars and Stripes badge and controversial remarks by his wife, Michelle, who described America as “mean” and implied that she had never been proud of the US until her husband ran for president.
Frankly, this is exactly what I’ve been talking about when I’ve discussed how liberals and blacks are the both the most loyal and the most reviled blocs in the Democratic Party. I’m happy to seek new electoral college votes in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, and Montana, and the Dakotas. West Virginia isn’t going to look beyond the color of John McCain and Barack Obama’s skin to make up their minds about who they vote for. I know there are many fine people in West Virginia, just as there are everywhere. But I can’t consider it a problem that Obama doesn’t appeal to these voters. Honestly, I’d be more concerned if he did appeal to them.