'Socialist,' 'Muslim' — Ugly reception for Obama
By: Politico Staff
October 19, 2008 03:56 PM EST
Barack Obama's stop at Cape Fear BBQ and Chicken in Fayetteville, N.C., this afternoon underscored the continued resistance of some voters to his candidacy — and his identity. The trip, according to a pool report, offered “some powerful and at times ugly interaction.”
Campaigning in a traditionally Republican state, the Democratic nominee found lots of supporters of John McCain, at least one woman who believes the Illinois senator is a "closet Muslim" — and another who repeatedly shouted “Socialist.”
The following is a compilation of pool reports from print, TV and wire reporters who accompanied Obama to the diner:
Obama arrived at the barbecue joint around 12:30 p.m., where an older and majority white clientele of several dozen were eating lunch after church services. Many patrons applauded as he walked into the diner, but Diane Fanning, 54, began yelling “Socialist, socialist, socialist — get out of here!”
Obama did not look directly at her, as she was across the diner, but it was loud enough that he most likely heard her.
The gentleman next to Fanning, Lenox Bramble, 76, flashed an angry look at her. “Be civil, be courteous,” he admonished her. Another woman, Cecilia Hayslip, 61, yelled back at Fanning (per Reuters), “At least he’s not a warmonger!”
Bramble told Reuters’ pooler that he wasn’t voting for Obama because he didn’t think he had enough experience. Bramble’s wife, Kit, 75, said after meeting Obama, “He was very nice,” but added she’d been a conservative Republican since Barry Goldwater’s era and said she wouldn’t vote for Obama.
Fanning said she’d heard that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had endorsed Obama but said that “Colin Powell is a RINO, R-I-N-O, Republican In Name Only.”
Later, Obama came to the long table where Fanning and other members of a local First Presbyterian church were gathered. He held out his hand to her and asked, “How are you, ma’am?” but she declined to shake his hand.
Fanning asked Obama about a North American union, and Obama responded: “Well, you know, I am opposed to it if it were happening. But it doesn’t seem to be actually be happening. The truth of the matter is there is no plans. I’ve talked to a lot of people, including folks down in Texas. There’s no plan to create a common government between Mexico, U.S. and Canada. That’s just not … that’s just not happening. I know some people have been hearing rumors about it. But as far as I can tell, that’s just not something that’s happening. We would never give up our sovereignty in that way. Any other questions?
In an interview, Fanning said, “I still think he’s a closet Muslim.”
Obama spoke at length with many of the others parishioners at the long banquet table and got a much friendlier reception as he spoke about health care, taxes and Social Security. Fanning told your pooler, “Some of ‘em are just nicer than I am. I know how some of ‘em think.”
But several of her fellow churchgoers said their support was genuine.
Betty Waylett, 76, told Obama, “You’re doing a great job.” She told your pooler that she is a Republican but that she will vote for Obama because she likes the way he speaks and his manner. Waylett, who is white, said Obama’s race is not a factor. “I never thought about it one way or the other.”
Pastor Randal Bremer, also at the table, said Obama told him, “Whether you vote for me or not, I’ll need your prayers.”
“I’m very impressed by his ability to meet people on a down-to-earth level,” Bremer said in an interview. He said that he would pray for Obama but that he planned to vote for McCain, mostly because he prefers smaller government and McCain’s position on the Iraq war. He thinks there have been important gains in Iraq, and “I don’t want to see that damaged by a premature pullout.”
Mike Long, 33, a first-time voter in furniture sales, said after talking with Obama about health care that he’d gone from less than 50 percent likely to vote for him to “98 percent” likely.
Sheila Evans, 39, who is biracial, told Obama, “I’m so proud of you.” She told your pooler Obama had chosen a restaurant frequented more by whites, while one a couple of doors down had predominantly African-American diners on Sundays.
But some of the other older white diners looked surprised and slightly uncomfortable as Obama stopped at their tables to shake hands. “I’m surprised, but I’m not going to say anything else,” said Pat Smith, who was joined by her husband.
A group of six retired women said they were mostly Democrats — but mostly undecided about how to vote.
“I have to pray about it, think about what’s best for our country,” said Dorothy Buie, one of the women.
Obama ordered some food to go for himself and his aides. They ordered chicken, collards, baked beans, slaw and wings. The tab was $13.91. The visit lasted about half an hour.
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