Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iowa Boy: Obama Can Do Well With Rural Voters

Opportunities abound, rural chronicler says. But he adds that Obama could be snared in the politics of abortion.

Former long-time Des Moines Register "Iowa Boy" columnist Chuck Offenburger, a writer who understands small towns and their people as well as any Hawkeye Stater, says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama can "do very well with rural voters" not only in Iowa but across the nation.

"One thing he can do to build his rural base is to remind people in the farm states that John McCain is anti-subsidies and anti-earmarks, and neither of those positions squares very well with the expansion of the agricultural economy we are currently enjoying," Offenburger told Iowa Independent. "As a state legislator and later U.S. senator from Illinois, a state with a robust farm economy, Obama has been a supporter in the development of the bio-economy."

Offenburger, a Republican who operates a Web site, authors books and does freelance writing from an old farmhouse outside of Cooper south of Jefferson, said he thinks Obama can make a persuasive argument that he will be much better at helping develop strong U.S. relationships and trade agreements with the fast-developing potential markets in Asia, South Asia, Africa and South America -- all of which would benefit agriculture and manufacturing areas in rural America.

"And if Obama spends enough time campaigning in rural America, the people will see he is young, fun and focused on the future," Offenburger said. "McCain isn't. Specifically in Iowa, Obama should remind voters that he spent a whole year in this state, convincing many skeptical people that he is a legitimate candidate, articulating and defending his positions, diligently building his base, and then scoring a huge victory in the Iowa Caucuses."

In August, during the Republican straw poll Offenburger posted a piece
on his Web site in which he made the case that no members of his party in Iowa should vote for John McCain, Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson because they skipped the festivities in Ames.

"McCain essentially skipped the Iowa campaign and caucuses, and was even arrogantly dismissive about our whole process here," said Offenburger.

All of this said, Offenburger sees the abortion issue as potentially looming large in the fall in rural America.

"Obama has one huge problem, and I think it will be more of a problem for him with rural voters than those in urban areas -- the abortion issue," Offenburger said. "Obama has one of the most liberal, pro-choice voting records in Congress on this issue. A lot of people of the pro-life position, like me, find a whole lot to like about Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. But many of us will have a very hard time voting for him, knowing what his Supreme Court appointments would do to the future balance of the high court. We've made great progress there under President George W. Bush -- in fact, his Supreme Court appoiintments have been one of the very few bright spots of his presidency -- and I'd hate to give that up."

This story is crossposted at Iowa

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