Senator Evan Byah, a prominent Clinton supporter who has been mentioned as possible Vice-Presidential nominee and also happens to be from Indiana, says that the controversy over Barack Obama’s ties to Jeremiah Wright would become an issue in the General Election if Obama were the nominee:
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) today praised Sen. Barack Obama for denouncing his former pastor, but warned that Republicans will use the association to try to “Swift Boat” the Illinois senator if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee this fall.
Bayh, who is supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, said he hoped other issues — the economy, gasoline prices, health care and the cost of college — will drive the decisions of most voters in Tuesday’s Indiana primary. Obama has struggled in other states to win the votes of white, working class voters, and they could be the deciding vote next Tuesday.
Noting that even Obama has called the controversy of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright “a legitimate issue,” Bayh said that in a presidential race, those voters will take more than the economy into their decision making before the primary.
“You’re running for president and people want to get a sense of who you are, and when you’re new to the public stage you’re a little more susceptible to having the canvas painted in by your political opponents,” Bayh said during an interview for the video program “PostTalk” on washingtonpost.com.
Bayh said neither he nor Clinton intended to inject the Wright controversy into the primary, but he is worried that Republicans will do so in a general election. “I’m sure the far right will be out there trying to do the whole Swift Boat thing and that sort of thing. But I hope people will focus on the most substantive issues and I think the vast majority of them will.
And if you don’t think that Clinton and her supporters aren’t making this same argument to the superdelegates, you’re kidding yourself. This, in the end, is the heart of the electability argument that they will try to make to get the nomination no matter how the remaining primaries turn out.