Montanans enjoyed a rare jaunt in the national election foray this weekend, with Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton making appearances throughout the state. In a race where the candidates may actually need some of the state’s 17 delegates at stake in the upcoming primary – one of the last in the nation – the visits were a nice ego boost for a state that’s used to being an afterthought on the national political scene.
And it seemed the candidates were plenty ready to oblige Montanans, already heady with the attention, with a few extra ego rubs. “I wanted to come out here for St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m glad I decided to come tonight instead,” Clinton said in her Butte speech. “Because the only party in Butte that’s better than St. Patrick’s Day is the Democratic Party.” Another Clinton gem: “By holding the last primary, the ‘last best place’ is going to help choose the next president of the United States,” she said.
Obama indulged a bit as well, talking about Montana’s scenery and a desire to fly fish, though he may not have pandered enough: Some of Butte’s more sensitive residents are evidently offended because he declined a shoeshine.
It’s easier to feel some of these comments are disingenuous when you’re watching from afar – something I’m sure I’ll regret should either win and I one day have to tell my grandchildren I missed out because, well, “I didn’t really feel like driving two hours.” All in all, I’d wager most of us file these comments under “the little fibs candidates tell,” and scoff while secretly enjoying the attention.
At least one Montana city was unimpressed, though. Residents of Billings, my hometown and the largest city in Montana, were left to speculate why they didn’t warrant a visit – Too far down the road? Too Republican? – and rub their bruised egos.
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