SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – Barack Obama can talk about his childhood years in Kansas and upbringing by his white Midwestern grandparents, but if voters at one small-town Indiana cafe are any indication, he has a long way to go to convince them he represents heartland America.
“Obama has great ideas but his background scares me,” said Chris Leighton, 60, a secretary having lunch at the Chaperral Cafe in Shelbyville, in southeast Indiana. “Everyone talks about him being a Muslim and having ties to terrorism, but how do people really find out?”
The incorrect belief that the Illinois senator is a Muslim was shared by half a dozen others in the restaurant — a sign that dirty campaign tactics and Internet innuendo has taken root among some voters in Indiana, the next state to vote.
Construction worker Ron Debaun, 61, said he hadn’t yet decided whether he would support Obama or Hillary Clinton in Indiana’s May 6 primary, noting they both “have good ideas.” But he’s leaning toward Clinton.
What doesn’t he like about Obama?
“His Muslim ties,” said Debaun.
Why does he think Obama is a Muslim?
“Let’s just say that he admits it himself,” he said.
Retired locksmith Leslie Hedman, 61, said he doesn’t like any of the three candidates — Clinton, Obama, or Republican John McCain – because none are committed Christians.