The rural press is beginning to look at the two presidential candidates from a local perspective — and for now, Sen. John McCain is getting the short end of the stick. In a story published today in the Helena, Arkansas, newspaper the thrust is that rural voters “may play a significant role” in the election — and the Republican candidate has not been favorable to agricultural interests.

“The general perception of (Republican candidate) John McCain is that he’s not farmer friendly. He never scores well on top farm issues,” said Tom Buis, executive director of the National Farmers Union. The National Corn Growers Association is nervous about McCain’s opposition to ethanol subsidies. Buis said Sen. Barack Obama had a perfect score on the NFU’s accounting of congressional votes and the Democrat supports ethanol production.

Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, had a more circumspect opinion about the candidates. “Both parties have a miserable record when it comes to rural America,” he said.

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