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Bill Clinton's Legacy Looms over Pittsburgh Voters

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Bill Clinton's Legacy Looms over Pittsburgh Voters

Election 2008

Bill Clinton's Legacy Looms over Pittsburgh Voters

Bill Clinton's Legacy Looms over Pittsburgh Voters

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89327051/89334238" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Second in a Series

NPR's David Greene also spoke with Philadelphia voters about how race, the economy and the war were influencing their decisions for the state's upcoming primary.

fishmonger i

A fishmonger at Wholey's Fish Market in Pittsburgh is among the voters planning to participate in the state's upcoming primary. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

toggle caption David Gilkey/NPR
fishmonger

A fishmonger at Wholey's Fish Market in Pittsburgh is among the voters planning to participate in the state's upcoming primary.

David Gilkey/NPR
Fish market i

Wholey's Fish Market in Pittsburgh is a popular lunchtime spot. NPR talked to voters there about Pennsylvania's upcoming primary. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

toggle caption David Gilkey/NPR
Fish market

Wholey's Fish Market in Pittsburgh is a popular lunchtime spot. NPR talked to voters there about Pennsylvania's upcoming primary.

David Gilkey/NPR

Every city has a quirky neighborhood that everyone knows. In Pittsburgh, it's the Strip District, full of old warehouses and a different scent coming from each family-run shop. A visit to Wholey's Fish Market yielded some interesting perspectives on the candidates as Pennsylvania's Democratic primary approaches – and one of the biggest factors was Bill.

Peggy Kisslinger, a retired schoolteacher, recently made a trip to Wholey's Fish Market. Like many white, working-class voters in Western Pennsylvania, she says she supports New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. The voting group has voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in primaries in states such as Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

"It's time for a woman to get the job," Kisslinger says. "I think that it's our turn, and Obama would make an excellent running mate. And I hope he won't be too proud to accept that."

Like many voters in this area, however, she also worries that Clinton's candidacy is too tied up in her husband's legacy and his affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky. If Clinton becomes the nominee, Kisslinger says, "I think a lot of people are afraid they're going to get too much Bill Clinton."

The former president's name comes up frequently at the fish market – even though Hillary Clinton has spent six years in the U.S. Senate and has waged a long presidential campaign.

Another shopper and construction worker, Jim Gagich, is a registered Republican who voted for Bill Clinton. He says he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, largely because of the way she handled her husband's affair a decade ago. He believes it didn't demonstrate leadership on her part.

"I think a lot of people would have respected her more if she would have smacked him upside the head," Gagich says. "I don't cotton to these wives standing there, acting like they are supporting their husbands through something like that. I don't think my wife would, and I wouldn't respect her if she did."

Katerina Pavelle, who came to the fish market with her husband for sushi, says she is still undecided about who to vote for on April 22. She likes Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and has contributed $60 to his campaign, but she says she's now leaning toward Clinton because she disliked a speech Obama gave against the North American Trade Agreement. Pavelle is taking a closer look at what she calls Clinton's strength.

"I like the fact that she'll probably make a better president than Bill Clinton," Pavelle says. "I think she's smarter of the two of them anyhow, and she pursues her goals with what some people call ruthlessness."

But that same ruthlessness has given her husband, Scott, pause and makes him think he'll vote for Obama. He feels like Clinton can be a divisive figure, although she did impress him during her husband's affair.

"She was held up in a public spotlight as a woman scorned, and she didn't turn around and scream in the cameras or in public," he says. "I'm sure he just lost a couple yards of skin in private about it."

Katerina Pavelle says this behavior shows Clinton is professional and doesn't buckle under pressure — a trait she hopes Clinton would carry with her to the White House should she earn the nomination.

When Clinton embarked on her run for president, she said she needed to reintroduce herself to the country. But Pittsburgh voters seem to be looking more closely at her past.

Pennsylvania voters discuss the presidential race and upcoming primary.

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