U.S. presidential candidates often seek to connect in very personal ways with voters. They will eat the local foods, play the local games and seek endorsements from the local politicians. This has been especially evident in the presidential campaign in the eastern U.S. state of Pennsylvania, which holds its primary next April 22nd. Senator Hillary Clinton, who trails Senator Barack Obama in the tight race for the Democratic nomination, can boast of a more personal connection in the state than her rival. VOA's Jim Fry reports from northeastern Pennsylvania.
The lazy lapping waters of a mountain lake would seem an unlikely savior for a presidential campaign. But Lake Winola has become a focal point for Senator Hillary Clinton.
In her campaign add, Clinton says, "This is me in Scranton ."
A campaign ad highlights her grandfather, his Pennsylvania roots and summers at their Winola lake cottage without heat or an indoor shower.
She adds, "I was raised on Pinocle and the American dream."
Now, Fran Mollusky walks the ground she once watched Hillary toddle over. She says, "Her house was at the top of the hill. But they didn't have access to the lake. So, when they came, (and) she wanted to enjoy the lake, they would come down the road."
Mollusky says young Hillary and friends would spend time on the docks at this spot. "And so what you're looking at right here is kind of what Hillary would enjoy," she added.
In Scranton, 27 kilometers to the east, Clinton recently walked the streets. She greeted people in her grandfather's old neighborhood, highlighting her direct connection to -- the eastern state of Pennsylvania which is hosts a crucial primary election [Tuesday, April 22nd]. And Scranton anchors a key voting block in the mountainous northeast.
Senator Barack Obama recently bowled with Pennsylvanians and visited a farm with Senator Robert Casey, who is from Scranton - traditional campaign tactics aimed at identifying with voters.
But Obama does not have a personal connection like Lake Winola, or the fond memories of these ladies here who know the summers similar to those Clinton enjoyed as a child.
Lake Winola resident, Carol Oliver says, "Jump in the water. Friends down the road. No shoes all day."
Another Lake Winola resident, Kathy Myers adds, "Friendships for 60 years,"
Mary Stoko, past president of the neighborhood association, says there is a buzz [excited talk] among lake residents this political season. "I'm a Hillary supporter and we do have the pride. We have the pride that she spent her summers here,” Stoko said.
In downtown Scranton, not everybody is impressed with being one of Clinton 's childhood locales.
Obama supporter, Sue Ehrgood says, "One of her childhood homes. I know she has a home just about everywhere. That really doesn't make any difference to me."
And Clinton -- who grew up in Chicago (Illinois) and is a U.S. senator from New York -- did spend only a couple of weeks here every year. Still, Fran Mollusky feels a certain satisfaction at seeing a child of the lake so close to the White House.
"Makes you feel pretty warm, inside, to think that she's done so well," said Mollusky.
Yes, Mollusky says, she will vote for Clinton, not because she knew the child but because she likes what the woman has to say.