McCain's Push for (White) Votes in Philly

"McCain Camp Finds Some Hope in Philadelphia," Katharine Seelye reported on Monday. Why? Through its appeals to "white enclaves," the Times emphasized, over and over again.

Seelye played the color card obsessively, referring no less than eight times to how Pennsylvania's whites may vote, including in the story's text box: "Looking to a city's mostly white enclaves in trying to pull off an upset."

From the opening, Seelye underlined the race factor (as if it's somehow newsworthy for McCain to go vote-hunting in places where he may actually win some votes):

If Senator John McCain defies the polls and wins Pennsylvania, it will be in part because of voters like Harry Klemash, 67, a Democrat who supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primary but is still not comfortable with Senator Barack Obama.

"Obama has too many socialist policies, and he doesn't have enough experience," Mr. Klemash, a retired pressman, said Sunday as he walked his miniature poodle in Marconi Park in South Philadelphia, a largely white, Catholic, ethnic neighborhood.

With the presidential election a day away, the polls point to an Obama victory in Pennsylvania, with Mr. Obama holding a big lead in Philadelphia. But the polls are tightening, and Mr. McCain has shown no signs of backing off his quest to win the state, which remains central to his hope of winning the presidency.

As the Republicans try to map out ways in which Mr. McCain could pull off an upset, they see fertile ground in some enclaves in Philadelphia that are mostly white. They said that these areas would not yield a big trove of votes but that trimming Mr. Obama's lead here might make a difference.


The state Republican Party has begun running advertisements highlighting Mr. Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his former pastor, which could tap into concerns among white voters.

The Obama campaign is fully aware of the challenge.

"This is a tough ward," said Paul Rossi, 61, a data processor who lives in the neighborhood and is helping out at an Obama office that opened Saturday not far from Marconi Park. "It's a matter of convincing people culturally that they won't be harmed by Obama."

It is no accident that Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Obama's running mate, is being dispatched to speak in Marconi Park on Monday night for his final rally of the campaign. The white, blue-collar Catholics here are just the kind of voters whom Mr. Biden, also Catholic, was chosen to help win over. Mr. Biden is to be joined by members of the Philadelphia Phillies, who just won the World Series.