The quote heard ’round the country

Obama spoke at a fundraiser at the home of Alex Mehran in Presidio Heights.

Perhaps the last word to come to mind on the leafy outer blocks of Jackson Street is “bitter.” Yet it was here, at 3680 Jackson — during an afternoon of fund-raising in the neighborhood on April 6 that included an earlier stop at the Getty mansion on Broadway — that Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama offered his observations about embittered blue-collar workers.

“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-imigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.”

His comments stoked political debate around the country and gave Obama’s critics fresh ammunition to accuse him of being an elitist — and gave the chattering classes fresh opportunity to rail against ultraliberal out-of-touch San Franciscans.