U.S. Rep. John Murtha said today he expects Democratic nominee Barack Obama to carry Pennsylvania in next month's presidential election.
Mr. Murtha, a 17-term Democrat from Johnstown, told the Post-Gazette's editorial writers he sees momentum building in Mr. Obama's campaign across the state for the general election after he lost his party's April primary to Hillary Clinton. He thinks Republican John McCain's efforts have been stymied by the country's economic crisis.
"I think Obama is going to win, but I don't think it's going to be a runaway," he said. "I think he wins Pennsylvania."
Mr. Murtha said it has taken time for the state's voters embrace a black presidential candidate.
"There's no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area," said Mr. Murtha, whose district stretches from Johnstown to Washington County. "The older population is more hesitant."
Mr. Murtha said groups he deals with regularly, such as military veterans and senior citizens, have come around to supporting Mr. Obama in the past three months. He credited Mr. Obama with being the most organized candidate he has ever seen.
Editor's Note: Rep. John Murtha has issued an apology for the above statement:
“I apologize for making the comment that ‘Western Pennsylvania is a racist area.’
“While we cannot deny that race is a factor in this election, I believe we’ve been able to look beyond race these past few months, and that voters today are concerned with the policy differences of our two candidates and their vision for the future of our great country.
“Senator Obama has shown sound judgment and has presented us with a change from the failed policies of George Bush and John McCain. I believe he will win both Pennsylvania and the White House.”
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