Obama, Clinton Turn Up Populist Charm With Campaign Settings

05/14/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are chasing the elusive white middle class voter in Indiana (as well as North Carolina), and their campaigns are working hard to improve their appeal. That means carefully planned campaign stops, props and wardrobe changes.

The New York Times reports on efforts by the Obama campaign:

For the last 10 days leading up to Tuesday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, Mr. Obama's campaign has unfolded against a choreographed backdrop of factory floors and farmsteads, dinner tables and diners. He has talked less often of the audacity of hope and more often of the anxieties of middle-class Americans, while throwing in allusions to Nascar, fatty foods and beer, and playing the occasional game of basketball....

...Mr. Obama has more than a touch of the jock in him, working out daily and playing basketball whenever he can. But in matters of personal style, he is a formalist; he favors dress shirts and is reluctant to shed his jacket. He has altered that, too, in recent days.

Meanwhile, Clinton's campaign is working the same angle, and arguably doing a better job portraying her as a warrior for the middle class:

Whatever the results of the primaries on Tuesday in Indiana and North Carolina, Mrs. Clinton has accomplished the seemingly impossible in those states. Somehow, a woman who has not regularly filled her own gasoline tank in well over a decade, who with her husband made $109 million in the last eight years and who vacations with Oscar de la Renta, has transformed herself into a working-class hero.

In promoting herself as a champion of ordinary Americans in a troubled economy, Mrs. Clinton has also tried to cast her rival, Senator Barack Obama, as an out-of-touch elitist. She has made her case at all the right stops (an auto-racing hall of fame) and used all the right props (lately delivering speeches from pickup beds).

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