(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama, who during the 2008 campaign famously referred to small town Americans as bitter people clinging to guns and religion, today issued an executive order establishing a White House Rural Council.
The council will be chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Democratic governor of Iowa. Iowa—and other northern Midwest states—have been key swing states in recent presidential elections.
“Strong rural communities are key to a stronger America,” Obama said in releasing the order. “That’s why I’ve established the White House Rural Council to make sure we’re working across government to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth.”
Back on April 6, 2008, Obama had something quite different to say about rural America while speaking at what he thought was a private fundraiser in San Francisco.
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them,” Obama said.
“And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not,” said Obama. “And 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.”
Obama’s remarks at the San Francisco fundraiser, which were recorded, were first reported by the liberal Huffington Post.
According to a White House press release, the White House Rural Council Obama will coordinate government programs for rural communities, including job training, promoting biofuels, promoting food exports, and increasing broadband access. I will be chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the former Democratic governor of Iowa.