[See previous posts - here and here.]
Both the McCain and Clinton campaigns - as well as the mainstream media - play up the "they get bitter" line as Senator Obama stereotyping small-town America. That, of course, is to be expected from the rival campaigns. But IMHO, most folks are missing the point made by the complete statement (transcript here, an Off the Bus, HuffPo report by Mayhill Fowler). Senator Obama is actually trying to say that people are not not-voting for him out of race considerations, i.e. that people who don't vote for him are not racists.
Senator Obama: "...each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that 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.
Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you'll find is, is that people of every background -- there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you'll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I'd be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing."
[The entire audio is worth listening to, but garbled; reading the transcript is essential.]
From Talking Points Memo: "Bitter and Angry in Rural Pennsylvania: Obama's Reality vs. Hillary's Fantasy" - by astral66, someone who lives in western PA, and says Senator Obama was "100% accurate in his assessment."
Karen Dalton-Beninato, over at Off the Bus on HuffPo, parses the "bitter" statement and says: "Obama was talking about sentiments he has heard across the Midwest. I've heard them too -- all you have to do is ask."
In other news, via The Jed Report, both the Scranton, PA Times-Tribune and the Allentown-Lehigh Morning Call endorse Senator Obama. The Scranton endorsement is particularly important given the deep Rodham family roots there. Both newspapers say Senator Clinton is a political lightning rod (even if it is not entirely her own fault) that would not offer a change from the bitter divisiveness of the past few years, while both applaud Senator Obama's vision and leadership abilities.
From Wikipedia: "The Times-Tribune is moderately independent. The paper endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, but it did not endorse anyone in 2004." No indications of the Morning Call's political leanings, if any.
Finally, here's a great video (linked via a comment on a blog - forget which one):