Mon. May 16th, 2022

One day after the Democratic debate in Cleveland, Ohio between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Pennsylvania State representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith (D.) stopped short of endorsing either candidate during a visit to West Chester University. She praised both Democratic presidential candidates during a visit to a public affairs writing course at WCU Wednesday night. Smith’s comments came just under a week before pivotal primary elections in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island.

While the representative’s comments obviously will not impact the results of these races, they could hold some weight when the students vote in Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, which will account for 188 delegates.

“[Barack Obama] is very good at bringing people together,” Smith said. “He’s like a JFK to me.”

Obama, the senator from Illinois currently holds a 1,369-1,267 delegate lead over senator Hillary Clinton from New York. However, Clinton holds the advantage in Superdelegates, leading Obama 236-185.

Having already appeared at a local campaign rally in support of Hillary Clinton, Smith still refused to offer an all-out endorsement, while still considering supporting one of the two potential nominees.

“She’s really intelligent, she’s more then capable,” Smith said of Clinton. However, Smith added that Clinton is divisive and there are people who absolutely hate her.

Smith went on to attribute Clinton’s divisiveness to the actions of President Bill Clinton, and his alienation of republican constituents during his time in the White House.

Divisiveness is a major point of contention for the state representative, serving her first term in Pennsylvania’s legislature. Smith bewailed the partisan politics at both the state and federal levels of government during her discussion.

“Partisanship is like watching children,” Smith said. “[To politicians,] it’s all about them and getting reelected.”

In fact, Smith refuses to vote on bills centered around as she put it “the four divisive issues; gays, guns, abortions and immigration.”

Because of this attitude, then, it is no surprise that Smith offered high praise for Obama’s signature voice for unifying Americans.

Smith also discussed her value of life experience as an area Smith has excelled in, recently becoming a grandmother. Life experience is a character trait that Smith not only values in people, but politicians as well.

“I really love making decisions that change people’s lives for the better,” Smith said. “We need people who will do the right thing when nobody is watching.”

One of the most pressing issues facing both democratic Presidential candidates has been the fight for universal healthcare, an issue that Smith values very highly.

“If the people really want something, we must unite for the cause,” Smith said. “One voice makes a difference, but we must unite amongst other like voices in order for progress to occur.”

However, when pressed, the representative admitted to obstacles facing the implementation of universal healthcare.

“I don’t know where the money would come from.” Smith admitted. “However, shifting/reallocating the money would help.” She continued, before lamenting Aetna’s President and CEO earning $3.6 million per year, and Mitt Romney contributing $40 million to his own presidential campaign earlier this year.

Smith, a former republican Borough Council woman now serves in the 156th district of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, elected in 2006 and faces a reelection campaign this November.

“People are willing to listen as long as you say something [important] to them,” Smith said. “We need a leader that’s going to shake up the government.”

Matt Lombardo is a third-year student majoring in communications studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at

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