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Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 3/31/2008 [Archive]

Memo to Barack -- How to Win the Pa Primary

TO: Barack Obama

FROM: ABH Campaign Consultants Inc.

RE: How to win the Pa. Primary

Welcome again to Pittsburgh, Sen. Obama. Don't worry about those state polls showing you 16 points behind Hillary Clinton. You're certain to get 90 percent of the black vote here and in Philadelphia. But to be competitive statewide, we estimate you must capture at least 70 percent of the white, Catholic, union, middle-class, socially conservative Democrat voting bloc that has dominated Southwestern Pennsylvania politics since the New Deal.

That may seem unrealistic to you, particularly with Team Clinton having locked up the support of the state's Democratic Party hierarchy. But we're confident we can help you harvest white votes in a part of the country that culturally and sociologically will remind you often of Appalachia, except Western Pennsylvania has major league sports teams, higher taxes and poorer roads.

We believe your multiracial background and athletic skills make you uniquely qualified to exploit Pittsburghers' unconditional love of sports. Steelerism, as you know, is the region's dominant sect. It transcends politics and ultimately trumps all issues of race, class, age and gender.

Franco Harris was a good No. 1 draft pick by your campaign staff. So was Jerome Bettis. Recruiting both Hines Ward and Coach Tomlin is an obvious priority. While you are trying to line up that Sunday motorcycle ride with Ben Roethlisberger, continue to hone your "Here we go, Stillers, here we go" chant. In terms of policy ideas, we're still studying whether you should promise that, if elected president, your first executive act will be to provide emergency federal funding for the Steelers offensive line.

We plan to use your athleticism to maximize free media time. Before Pitt gets knocked out of the NCAA tournament, for example, we'll arrange for you to shoot some hoops at a team practice. Forget Major League Baseball. In Pittsburgh it's associated with 15 straight years of losing and fireworks. Let Hillary throw her arm out at the Pirates home opener.

Pittsburgh's become a passionate hockey town and it's about to be overcome with playoff mania. We are scheduling as many photo ops as we can with Sidney Crosby. Make sure you wear that No. 87 jersey we sent you everywhere you go. How are your and Michelle's ice skating lessons going? Can you drive the Zamboni the same night she sings "O Canada"?

Politically, your stump speech with all those vague policy ideas and warmed-over Great Society promises will do fine. Most Democrats here still haven't noticed big-government liberalism doesn't work. Don't be afraid to bash immigrants -- legal or illegal -- for any reason. Pittsburgh has fewer foreign-born residents than any other major city.

But remember not to complain about public schools being underfunded – quite a few Democrats even know Pittsburgh schools spend $18,000 a student and still don't work. Don't say anything nice about all those construction jobs created by the North Shore Connector transit tunnel, either; even Democrat committeemen know it's a horrible boondoggle.

Lastly, and most crucially, Sen. Obama, remember at all times what we told you about Pittsburgh's demographics -- it's the whitest major metropolitan area in America.

You must not mention the "R" word or talk about your hope of "bringing people beyond the divisions of race and class" around here. (Per your request, we've canceled your guest sermon at that black church. And from now on, let the Bus do all the bowling.)

Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at steigerwald@caglecartoons.com. ©Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, All Rights Reserved.

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