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6/13/08

AP: Criticisizing Obama's Name or Personality is Racist

Racial attitudes pose challenge for Obama

(AP)-"Gauging voter sentiments about race is notoriously difficult. Many voters hide their feelings from pollsters and it is possible that some do not even realize race's influence on their behavior.

In interviews with 40 Pennsylvanians across three counties that Clinton won by big margins, only one person indicated opposition to Obama simply because of his race. But several others said their neighbors might do so. Some offered objections that are familiar, and suspicious, to Obama's aides and supporters...

A few, like Susick, suggested the nation needs more time to prepare for a black president — and perhaps a woman as well. "I don't think we're ready for either one yet," said Doug Richardson, 62, a contractor from Latrobe. Obama "just hasn't impressed me," he said over midmorning coffee with a friend at Denny's. "His middle name bothers me a lot." That name is Hussein.

Rose Iezzi, who lunched recently with two friends at a Greensburg cafe, is one. All three women are middle-aged, work for an accountant and admire Clinton. But only Iezzi took a hard stand against Obama. "I think he's a snake oil salesman," she said. "He's a little too slick and smooth."

"He just doesn't appeal to me, and not because of race, definitely," she said in an interview in which race had not been mentioned. Such comments are all too familiar to Richard Akers, who phoned dozens of prospective Pennsylvania voters as an Obama campaign volunteer in April. Democrats often explained their opposition to Obama with "excuses that were not rational or valid, as I saw it," said the retired bank director from Johnstown, another hotbed of Clinton support."

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