"I didn't say it as well as I should have," he said.
That's an interesting comment coming from a man who, as everyone knows by now, has a penchant for writing and delivering well-crafted speeches. And that's where his comments originated: from a speech he delivered last week to the upper-classes on San Francisco's 'billionaire's row'.
"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."
(Full context in the "speech" link above - catnip)
Obama defends his remarks by stating that they're true (as do his supporters). But, what I found interesting, was was his reference to those people being "anti-trade". I thought he was anti-trade - at least as far as NAFTA goes, which is generally what trade grievances have been aimed at since its impact has washed destructively through small town America. So, beyond today's revised explanation, I think that's a point Obama will have to address more fully.
It's too early to know what the fallout will be for Obama but I think this political mistake will come back to haunt him. The right-wing has already pounced on it, as have Hillary and McCain. You don't go after the G*d, guns, and gays beliefs (and he did add gays into the mix on Friday nite) without offending some fence-sitting independents and possible "Obamacans" (Obama Republicans). Beyond that, to say that rural people only 'cling' to guns and religion because they are economically depressed flies in the face of reality.
Obama, who has refused to call himself a "liberal" because he claims that labels don't serve anybody (hiding from his own voting record in order to take away a right-wing talking point), has now been pegged as an "elitist" - the next worst word to "liberal", as far as conservatives are concerned. That attack stuck against John Kerry in 2004 and it will similarly stick to Obama, who has already had a hard time appealing to "working class" (blue collar) voters. Whether Hillary gains ground as a result has yet to be seen. One thing's certain though - Obama isn't done explaining his remarks. His damage control machine is in overdrive.
In the meantime, this latest gaffe has already taken away the spotlight (such as it is) that ought to be shining full tilt on the Bush administration's torture policies. No doubt, the Republicans are happy about that.