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For one S.D. voter, Barack Obama has problems on two religious fronts

June 2, 2008 |  6:44 pm

If there was one sliver of a silver lining in the ongoing embarrassments caused Barack Obama by his membership (which he gave up this past weekend) in the Trinity United Church of Christ, it was -- some of his partisans asserted -- that the controversies would help douse the rumor-mongering that he's a closet Muslim.

That may be wishful thinking, if the attitudes of a voter The Times' Noam Levey encountered in South Dakota today are at all indicative. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns at a restaurant in South Dakota

Levey was with Hillary Clinton as, in what may be her final full day on the campaign trail, the Democratic presidential contender worked hard to score one last victory in Tuesday's South Dakota primary. Her schedule took her to Tally’s Restaurant, a landmark in downtown Rapid City famous for pigs in a blanket made with Buffalo sausage.

It was all fairly typical -- she gave a speech, smiled and posed for photos and talked with patrons about healthcare and asked young people about their student loans, shaking her head at the amount that one young woman said she was wrestling with.

In her brief talk, she zeroed on the message that, against lengthening odds, she keeps hoping will resonate throughout her party and stall Obama's seemingly inexorable march toward its nomination. Referring to the presidency, she said, “I want you to think hard. Who would you hire to do this job.”

Few of her listeners needed any convincing that she would be the right choice. And one of those Clinton backers, 48-year-old Cheryl Chamberlain, was in no mood to transfer her allegiance to Obama, citing a litany of reasons that can only cause eyes to roll within his camp.

“I won’t vote for Obama,” Chamberlain told Levey. “You go on the Internet and see him associated with that church, with the Koran. He won’t wear a flag pin. … After 9/11, there is absolutely no way I’d support someone who is associated with the Koran. I won’t support terrorism.”

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images