This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," April 26, 2008.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Coming up next on the "Journal Editorial Report," Hillary Clinton fights on as the Democratic race heads to the Hoosier state.
He is still the favorite. Why can't Barack Obama close the deal?
The money chase. How John McCain's own campaign finance system may hamstring his general election bid.
Feeling the pinch at the grocery store? You are not alone. We will tell you what is behind soaring food prices and what can be done to bring them down.
But first, these headlines.
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Just when Democrats thought they might have a nominee, Hillary Clinton spoiled the party again. With her solid win in Pennsylvania Tuesday the former first lady kept her campaign alive until at least the contests in Indiana and North Carolina ten days from now. Along the way she underscored doubts about Barack Obama's November appeal.
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, editorial board member, Jason Riley; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Jason, second time within two months Barack Obama has gotten walloped in a key battleground industrial state, this time Pennsylvania, before, Ohio. What's the problem for him?
JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, the problem is something that's been evident for some time now, his weakness with working class, lower middle class white voters. It came to the fore again in Pennsylvania.
GIGOT: What do you think is the cause of that? Is it cultural? Is it perhaps racial? Economic? What is it?
RILEY: There are too many other weaknesses with Obama to jump to the conclusion it is about race. I think it is about a feel he doesn't share their values, that he doesn't relate to their problems and Obama's campaign reinforced this. Not only with the comments in San Francisco about being bitter but he was on — his chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod was on NPR just after the most recent primary saying, oh, these working class voters that everyone says we have a problem with, they have been trending Republican anyways. We don't really need them to win. It is attitudes like that that I think reinforce this elitist view that Obama is out of touch with a lot of Americans.
GIGOT: Kim, Jason makes the case it is the Hyde Park, Harvard kind of elitism. Do you agree with that?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I think there is something to that. There is also the case, in one way, Obama's message has been overtaken by event. You look last year, the economy was pretty good. But people were generally unsettled. They didn't like the war. They didn't think Washington did enough. You have this guy saying I will come in and give change.
Now you have an economy in trouble. People are worried about day-to- day issues. They are looking for someone, as Jason said, who is going to identify with them but also offer concrete solutions. The reality is when it comes to those, Hillary Clinton is better at making policy cases and identifying with voters.
GIGOT: Dan, on that point I spoke to a member of Congress who asked what's the offer? What's the middle class offer. What's he saying other than a kind of vague general message of change that makes you feel good, eloquent. What is he saying that would say I can improve your life tangibly?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: He was saying that. I think in addition, one of the by problems here is what I would call a problem of subtraction. Let's think back to when Obama's wave hit. It was a kind of magical candidacy. It was as though he was a superman of politics and there was this aura people were attracted to. They almost couldn't explain it.
Now with things like the Reverend Wright problem, the bitter controversy, he has come back to earth. He's become a much more normal candidate. And at that point, I think the problems are describing, began to manifest themselves and now they are showing up in these votes in states like Pennsylvania.