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North Carolina Hecklers Target Obama — and Voters

Sen. Barack Obama often drops by small diners and restaurants during his campaign trips, chatting with patrons and posing for pictures. But a Sunday pit-stop at Cape Fear BBQ in Fayetteville, N.C., broke with the usual routine.

Some people at the establishment heckled the Illinois senator, calling him a socialist and yelling at him to leave the restaurant. From the pool report:

[Obama] entered the barbecue joint where an older and majority-white clientele of dozens was eating lunch after church services. At the other end of the restaurant, Diane Fanning, 54, who works at a discount club, began yelling: “Socialist, socialist, socialist -– get out of here!” There was a lot of noise and excitement and positive reception as well… The gentleman next to Fanning, Lenox Bramble, 76, flashed an angry look at her. “Be civil, be courteous,” he admonished her. Another woman, Cecilia Hayslip, 61, yelled back at Fanning (per Reuters), “At least he’s not a warmonger!”

Mr. Bramble told Reuters’ pool reporter that he wasn’t voting for Obama because he didn’t think he had enough experience. Bramble’s wife, Kit, 75, said after meeting Obama, “He was very nice” but added she’d been a conservative Republican since Barry Goldwater’s era and she wouldn’t vote for Obama….

Later, Obama came to the long table where Fanning and other members of the local First Presbyterian Church were gathered. He held out his hand to her to shake it and asked, “How are you, ma’am?” but she declined to shake.

He spoke at length with many of the other parishioners at the long banquet table, however, and got a much friendlier reception as he spoke about health care, taxes and Social Security. Fanning told the pool reporter, “Some of them are just nicer than I am. I know how some of them think.” But several of her fellow churchgoers said their support was genuine. Betty Waylett, 76, told him, “You’re doing a great job.” She told the pool reporter she is a Republican but will vote for Obama because she likes the way he speaks and his manner.

Heckling in North Carolina is not limited to Obama. A new video today from the Washington Times shows Republican protesters heckling their fellow citizens in line at an early voting station in Fayetteville, just a few hours after Obama’s trip there.

“At the polling site was a group of loud and angry protesters who shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in,” explains the accompanying report. “Nearly all were white….no one held anything back. People were shouting about Obama’s acknowledged cocaine use as a young man, abortion and one man used the word ‘terrorist.’”

These are troubling incidents in the homestretch of a tough campaign, especially when crowds gather to yell and potentially intimidate people as they exercise their voting rights.

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