WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- Likely Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama must find ways to show voters he is a regular American, political experts say.
Obama, D-Ill., has been cast by Republicans and some within his own party as a tax-and-spend elitist. He also must cross the gender gap, as well as erase concerns about his racial background and religious affiliations, Politico, a Washington publication, noted Monday.
Harvey Gantt, the first black mayor of Charlotte, N.C., said Obama "has to bend over backward to show that he is like them."
Likewise, Douglas Wilder, the mayor of Richmond, Va., the nation's first elected black governor, told Politco that Obama has to be clear "he will be representing all Americans."
"To be taken seriously, he's got to dispel the notion, with all due respect for the gentlemen, that he's not another Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson," Wilder said.
Advisers to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the likely GOP candidate, acknowledge they have to chart a campaign course honing in on Obama's stand on the issues important to voters.
"We don't want to talk about his patriotism and character," McCain adviser Charlie Black told the Politico. "We concede that he's a patriot and person of good character. This is about big issues."