President Barack Obama appears to be gaining ground again in several national polls, recovering slightly from a slump that followed his dismal performance in the first debate — but the latest numbers also point to a very tight contest, where voter enthusiasm and turnout will be crucial.
“Obama’s slight 49 percent to 46 percent seven-day lead among registered voters is just about where it was in the seven days prior to the debate,” said Frank Newport, editor in chief at Gallup Poll. “This trend suggests that Romney’s impressive debate performance — 72 percent of debate watchers said he did the better job — may not have a lasting impact.”
Obama has publicly acknowledged his lackluster performance on Oct. 3.
“I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite,” he told radio host Tom Joyner this week, adding that he would not make the same mistake in the next debate. “We’re going to take it to him.” Newport noted that though Obama was again rising in the polls, three points is considered statistically insignificant — leaving the president and his challenger Mitt Romney in a dead heat.
In addition to polling registered voters, Gallup polled likely voters, and in that category Romney held a slim lead — 49 percent to Obama’s 47 percent.
The differing results point to the importance of voter turn-out in the Nov. 6 election, Newport said.
“Neither result provides a candidate with a statistically significant lead,” he said. “But together they do underscore the competitive nature of the election and indicate that Romney at this point benefits from turnout patterns.”
The Rasmussen Report also shows Obama again in the lead – but by just one point. In their numbers, released on Thursday, Obama had the support of 48 percent of voters while Romney had 47 percent of voters. Politico also gave Obama a one-point lead, reporting that Obama had the support of 49 percent of voters
It too noted that the election will hinge on turnout and that enthusiasm for Obama has slipped.
According to Politico’s findings, 73 percent who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote. That compared to 86 percent of Romney supporters who were “extremely likely” to vote.
In more general terms, 84 percent of Republicans said they were extremely likely to vote, compared to 76 percent of Democrats.
In that category — those extremely likely to vote — Romney leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s a 2-point gain from last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent among this group three weeks ago.
“A more energized base frees up Romney to focus more of his energy on wooing independents and others unhappy with the president but not currently supporting him,” wrote James Hohmann, in Politico’s analysis of the date. “The trend lines suggest that Obama will be forced to devote more time than he’d like in the final weeks toward motivating African-Americans, Latinos and college kids.”
Locally, a poll released Wednesday showed that Obama maintained a lead — though by a smaller margin — in Pennsylvania despite his performance during the Oct. 3 debate.
Obama had the support of 50 percent of voters compared to 42 percent for Romney. The number remained unchanged for Obama — he had the same 50 percent support in September. But, for Romney, the new figures represented a gain from his 39 percent support in September.
The president has enjoyed strong support in Pennsylvania.
On Monday, several news outlets reported that Romney had pulled his campaign out of Pennsylvania, closing up shop so his campaign could focus on Ohio. Campaign officials have declined to comment — published reports were based on comments from unnamed sources.
Rommey, speaking at a campaign stop last week, said the Keystone State was still in play.
“I’ve got a little secret here and that is that the Obama campaign thinks Pennsylvania is in their pocket — they don’t need to worry about it,” he said. “And you’re right and they’re wrong: We’re going to win Pennsylvania.”
WASHINGTON — One of the oldest U.S. civil rights groups says President Barack Obama may have a tougher time winning at least three battleground states in November if Black voter turnout falls at least 5 percentage points below the record levels that helped to put him in the White House.
Black voter turnout of 64.7 percent was a significant factor in Obama's victory in 2008, and African Americans are considered solidly behind Obama now. But having achieved the milestone of electing the nation's first Black president, Black voters may be less motivated to return to the polls in droves again, the National Urban League said in a report released this week.
The Urban League released its report ahead of the president's July 25 speech scheduled for opening day at its national convention in New Orleans, and a week after Romney was booed at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention for saying, among other things, that he would repeal Obama's landmark health care law if he is elected.
Assuming no change in 2008 voting patterns, Urban League researchers said, Black turnout at about 60 percent or below could cost Obama the state of North Carolina and make it difficult for him to win Ohio and Virginia. In addition to diminished voter enthusiasm, the still-ailing economy, persistent high unemployment among Blacks, new state voting laws and limited growth in the African-American population could help discourage turnout.
"We achieved a high-water mark in America in 2008. For the first time, African Americans were at the table with white America" because the turnout of Black voters was just 1.4 points below white voters, said Chanelle Hardy, senior vice president and executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute. But, "because we achieved so much in 2008, we have to push even harder to meet those numbers."
"President Obama does not take a single vote or support from any community for granted, and he is working to secure the same levels of support based on policies that give everyone a fair shot and the opportunity to succeed," said Clo Ewing of the Obama campaign.
The campaign for likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney said he would compete for Black votes.
Tara Wall, a spokeswoman for Romney's campaign, said Romney acknowledges he won't get a majority of Black voters' support but recognizes Obama can't count on the margins he once enjoyed.
"Every percentage point that we chip away from President Obama counts," Wall said.
A number of other changes could affect the influence of the Black vote. Increased turnout of Hispanic voters, who went heavily for Obama in 2008, or drops in the turnout of conservative Republicans could conceivably offset a lower Black-voter turnout.
Marc Morial, National Urban League president, said the African-American vote should not be thought of as static, even if Black voters are expected to overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Obama. "We wanted to point out that turnout makes a difference, and African-American turnout makes a difference," Morial said.
African-American voter turnout has been on a steady climb since 1996, when turnout was just 53 percent.
Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University, said mobilization will be key. "You just can't take anything for granted in this type of race where you've got this level of polarization." -- (AP)
In the wake of President Obama’s address to the Congressional Black Caucus, there are those who are making much ado about nothing, including the accusation that, by dropping his “g’s” the president was talking down to African Americans. Can this President kindly get a break? He is accused of distancing himself from the African-American community, so he shows up at the Congressional Black Caucus annual Legislative Conference Saturday dinner. He stays around to shake hands. The cynical would, predictably, say he is campaigning. Others appreciate the gesture for what it is, attempted outreach.
Yes, he tells folks to stop whining and to put on their marching shoes. “Whining” may have been a poor choice of words. Still, his focus when he was at the CBC was simple: “Pass the jobs bill.” He has challenged Republicans to respond to the greatest need in our nation right now, the need to create jobs, and he was absolutely firm in his focus. What is there to fuss about?
Still, the president’s speech has been fodder for critics, both on the left and on the right. Those accused of “whining” are annoyed by the perceived condescension on the part of the president. Those who think he should never acknowledge an African-American constituency is also peeved. And so the legions of lowlifes, also known as conservative talk show hosts, are having fun with the president’s speech. Few have dealt with the substance.
There is a jobs bill in play and it will cost us nearly $450 billion. It will put teachers, construction workers and others back to work. It’s a viable plan that doesn’t offer everything, but it is a step in the right direction. Can we focus on the substance, not the rhetoric? President Obama must be frustrated, because I surely am. With Black unemployment inching toward a third, how can we continue to afford the political stalemate that strangles progress? Why is anybody involved in a picayune debate that parses every word, and every inflection, without dealing with the substance of those words?
President Obama has been stuck someplace between a rock and a hard place since his election. He inherited a broken economy and had few tools with which to fix it. He also has a conciliatory demeanor, which makes him a poor negotiator when his effort is to find consensus with those who have openly promised to oppose him. Had he been firmer in his first two years, he might have had a different legislative demographic to deal with in these last two years of his first term. Now, he faces a hostile House of Representatives, some who say their goal is to deny him a second term, even to the peril of our nation.
Our president’s difficulties do not earn him carte blanche from those who answer to their constituencies — jobless, foreclosed on, insecure. There must always be room for principled criticism. On the other hand, our president’s challenges should not earn him this micro-inspection of his every word, his every nuance. I think that when President Barack Obama was at the CBC he was “home” and he expressed himself as if he were home — candid, fiery, frustrated and focused.
I applaud the president for his words, and for his presence at the CBC. At the same time, I stand with those like Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who want more, faster and targeted. Seasoned politicians understand the space in which our president operates, and seasoned politicians understand that while the tea party is pushing hard to the right, there are those who must push to the left.
And still, there is a bottom line. Support this president for all of what he stands for. Offer principled criticism for ways he can do better. The criticism shouldn’t be about dropping his “g’s” or scolding Black folk. The criticism ought to be about ideas, proposals, effort and outcomes.
The flap about President Obama’s speech is much ado about nuttin’ (g’s deliberately dropped). What will we do to help the jobs bill pass? Right now, that’s the bottom line! — (NNPA)
Julianne Malveaux is president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.
NEW YORK — Who were those willowy young women with Barack and Michelle Obama — and where'd they hide little Sasha and Malia?
Four years is a long time when it's a half or a third of your life, and so TV viewers who hadn't seen the Obama girls much since 2008 might have been truly startled at just how much they'd grown when they appeared onstage with their father Thursday night.
After all, Malia, now 14, who started (gasp!) high school this week, was just about as tall as her already tall parents.
Relaxed and composed, in a purplish blue sleeveless dress from H&M, Malia laughed with her father onstage after his remarks, and earlier sat and applauded with her mom and her sister, Sasha, who wore a black-and-white print frock from Anthropologie. (Now 11, Sasha hardly fits in her parents' laps anymore, and even resists a cuddle, the couple ruefully told People in an interview last month.)
There was one sign, though, that the girls were still kids: "Yes, you do have to go to school in the morning," their dad warned them at the beginning of his speech.
What struck one former White House aide was the ease and comfort with which the girls were inhabiting their public roles.
"Their smiles were genuine and huge tonight," said Anita McBride, a former chief of staff to Laura Bush, as well as an assistant to Bush's husband. "There was no awkwardness. They clearly have adjusted to their life in the public eye." McBride said she was also stunned by how poised and grownup the girls looked.
One reason Thursday's scene was so striking is that the American public doesn't see the daughters regularly, especially on TV. "There hasn't been a steady stream of images to relate to," said Sandra Sobieraj, a correspondent for People who covers the first family.
So for many, the most familiar images are from four years ago. At the 2008 convention in Denver, Sasha, then 7, fidgeted in her purple children's dress, little white barrettes on either side of her head.
"Daddy, what city are you in?" she called out in a high-pitched voice as her dad appeared on a huge video screen the night of Michelle Obama's speech. "I love you, Daddy!" called out Malia, 10, looking a bit older in a two-toned dress with straps.
Then came election night in Chicago. There was Sasha in a black party dress, bounding gleefully up into her father's arms, planting a big kiss on his cheek — a reminder that young children were about to live in the White House for the first time since Chelsea Clinton, Amy Carter, and before them, the younger Kennedy kids, Caroline and John.
And of course there was the inauguration. Who could resist the sight of Malia, in a periwinkle-blue coat and fluffy black scarf, snapping pictures from her enviable perch on the inaugural podium?
Just the night before, she and Sasha, whose inaugural outfit was a light pink coat, had danced onstage with the Jonas Brothers — a perfect example of how, as much as her parents vowed to keep their lives as normal as possible, the girls were truly celebrities from Day One.
For the president and first lady, protecting their privacy was an evolving skill. Candidate Obama quickly regretted, for example, an all-family interview granted to the TV show "Access Hollywood."
Once the family arrived at the White House, strict arrangements were in place. The news media traditionally respects the privacy of a president's young children and doesn't photograph or report on them unless they are in a public setting with their parents.
Yet the couple constantly talks about their kids. At times the president has embarrassed them, as when he told an audience that Malia once got a 73 on a science test. (He later apologized.)
Two years ago, when Malia first went to summer camp, the White House discouraged mention of it in the media, even though Obama mentioned it in interviews. And recently he revealed the state where both daughters had just spent a month at camp — New Hampshire.
"They just love talking about their girls," said Sobieraj. "They get genuine joy from them, and so they talk about it. To a degree that makes the staff uncomfortable, because the line is shifting."
Other White House kids have led less public lives, perhaps a function of the times. Jackie Kennedy was so concerned about keeping her kids out of view that she organized kindergarten for Caroline inside the White House, writes Doug Wead, an expert on presidential offspring, in "All the President's Children." (She was out of town when her husband allowed those famous photos of Caroline and John in the Oval Office to be taken, Wead writes.)
And Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were extremely protective of Chelsea, who entered the White House at an awkward stage. Her parents were furious when Mike Myers referred to their daughter in an insulting way on "Saturday Night Live." The comic later apologized.
Whereas many White House children through history seem to suffer some sort of embarrassment or scandal, the Obama girls have had none.
"Compared to other White House families, this is clearly the most functional," said Wead, who chronicles a host of misfortunes of past White House kids in his book. (He's now working on a book about White House siblings.) "This has been one of the most successful stories."
McBride, who now directs programming on the history of first ladies at American University, says that no matter your politics, it's comforting to see a happy first family. "Whether you support this president or not, you want to know that it's healthy and grounding and going well at home. "They clearly are a family that's got it together."
The Obamas certainly relish spending time with their kids. The first family is well known to have dinner together in the White House most nights; Michelle Obama in her convention speech evoked the image of the family, at the table, "strategizing about middle-school friendships."
That will likely help the president avoid some of the guilt that, Wead says, has afflicted some presidents of the past who spent little time with their offspring — like that which he says overcame Ulysses S. Grant on the occasion of his daughter's White House wedding. She left on her honeymoon, and Wead says the president then collapsed on her bed and wept.
"He had been so busy as president that he felt he had missed her life," Wead says. "It all had happened too fast for him." -- (AP)
ATLANTA — Herman Cain is reveling in the national spotlight as a most unlikely top-tier Republican presidential contender. He is a millionaire Black businessman who has never held public office, but is best known for heading a pizza restaurant chain. Yet he has surged in polls of Republican voters to tie or lead the presumed front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The 65-year-old Cain, the son of a chauffeur and a maid, clearly has struck a chord with a part of the Republican electorate craving a fresh face not tied to the party establishment. This is the first presidential contest since the rise of the tea party movement which advocates small government and deep spending cuts. Cain is in many ways the natural culmination of the grass-roots movement: a straight-talking political outsider, espousing an anti-tax platform.
The former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza has never held elected office, having lost a 2004 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. In other years, such a sparse political resume might be disqualifying, but Cain brandishes the outsider status like a badge of honor. He has spent years burnishing his reputation in conservative circles as a talk radio host and inspirational speaker at events.
Cain's rise in the polls has been fueled by his catchy "9-9-9" tax overhaul plan which he's made the centerpiece of his campaign. The plan would scrap the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent tax on personal income and corporations as well as a new 9 percent national sales tax.
"Our tax code is the 21st century version of slavery," Cain said in a campaign Web video promoting his plan — a provocative statement from a Black candidate.
Cain has benefited because polls show that Republicans aren't sold on Romney and have been looking for another presidential candidate even though Romney has essentially been running for president since losing his 2008 bid.
Republicans are "in a rebellious and ultraconservative mood," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. "And," he added, "Mitt Romney is not rebellious."
Romney's performance in Tuesday's candidates' debate did little to dispel those doubts. Romney defended the 2008-2009 Wall Street bailout that irks the tea party and declared that he could work with "good" Democrats. He also gave one of his most spirited defenses of his health care initiative when he was Massachusetts governor, legislation that President Barack Obama has called a partial blueprint for his own national overhaul that most Republicans loathe.
While those positions may make him appealing to a wider swath of Americans in next fall's election, they greatly disturb conservatives who dominate the Republican primary electorate.
Generally, Republicans say that Romney has more experience and a better chance to beat Obama next fall than anyone else in the field. But those on the party's right flank doubt whether he — more so than other candidates — shares their values.
And that helps explain why some Republicans have been itching for someone else. Among the declared candidates, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have both sat near — or at — the top of national polls of Republican voters only to falter. There were groundswells of support for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to get in the race, but both declined to run.
"The conservative wing of the Republican Party has been auditioning for an anti-Romney alternative for months now," former Republican strategist Dan Schnur said. "They've tried Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, and they both wilted under the scrutiny. So far, Herman Cain seems to be holding his own."
The party runs a risk of repeating what happened in several 2010 Senate primaries when Republican voters rejected more electable moderate candates in favor of ultraconservatives who ended up losing and cost the party a chance to control the U.S. Senate. Obama is vulnerable at a time when the economic recovery is running out of steam and unemployment remains stuck at slightly over 9 percent. National polls show Romney to be the most competitive candidate while Perry and Cain are much further back.
There's no telling how long the love for Cain will last among the Republican primary electorate or whether he can turn the buzz into votes on primary and caucus nights this winter. It takes more than enthusiasm to win the nomination. It takes money and organization, and Cain trails his top rivals Romney and Perry on both fronts.
"I am running because I want to win, not because I'm trying to raise my profile or get a TV show," Cain said Thursday after speaking during a Faith and Freedom Coalition rally at Ohio Christian University. "I don't want a TV show. I want to do what I can to help get this nation back on track."
Cain has not followed the traditional strategy of a serious White House contender, but then he is not the traditional presidential candidate. With his campaign suddenly in the spotlight, he chose not to focus on appearances in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire but embarked on a two-week book tour to promote "This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House." The optimistically titled rags-to-riches political memoir has landed among Amazon.com's top 10 best-sellers.
He acknowledged that he likely can't raise as much money as Perry or Romney but said his recent surge has convinced him that "message is more powerful than money" and that he can get the financial and public support to stay in the race. He will report his fundraising for the past three months within days.
Cain will need to bolster his fledgling White House campaign very quickly. He has little campaign organization in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states where voting begins in less than three months.
His top-tier status also means that Cain's background and policy positions will come under close scrutiny and could trip him up. That's what happened to Perry who slumped in the polls after a series of poor debate performances. Many hard-core Republican conservatives were turned off after learning of Perry's support for cheaper, in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants.
"He is the next guy to go through the conservative vetting process and will have to prove to be able to beat both Romney and Obama for conservatives to embrace him," said Erick Erickson, who runs the conservative blog RedState. "If he can't show that, conservatives will probably go back to Perry."
In Tuesday's debate, Cain's rivals mocked his "9-9-9" plan as simplistic and politically unworkable.
"I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it," joked former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Cain argues the 9-9-9 proposal would expand the tax base so more Americans are contributing to government coffers while at the same time getting government out of the business of picking winners and losers through the tax code.
"It's bold," Jeanne Seaver, co-founder of the Savannah, Georgia, tea party. "I like that you know where you stand with his plan."
But while some are swayed by the plan's simplicity, critics on the left say it would place a greater tax burden on middle- and low-income Americans while offering a big tax cut to the wealthy and corporations. They also fear it could defund social safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicare which provide pensions and health care coverage to the elderly.
Cain has had his share of stumbles, mostly on foreign policy and Islam. He had to apologize to Muslim leaders for vitriolic remarks in which he said communities have a right to ban mosques because Muslims are trying to inject sharia law into the U.S. and that he would not want a Muslim bent on killing Americans in his administration. -- (AP)
As with other mass shootings, the killings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., triggered a familiar chain of reactions: horror, remorse, rage and a call for new restrictions on guns.
And in the recent past, at least, that call for action has been followed by little or no legislative action at all.
For example, after the January 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and 13 others injured, President Barack Obama delivered a moving nationally televised address but a call for new gun laws was conspicuous in its absence.
Instead, in an Arizona Daily Star op-ed he repeated his support for the Second Amendment and called for stricter enforcement of gun laws that are already on the books. That stance perfectly matches the position of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s leading gun owners’ advocacy group. But if NRA leaders were pleased, they are not about to show it.
Quite the opposite, there are too many votes to be won, money to be raised and new members to be enlisted by tagging Obama as “anti-gun” for the NRA or other gun lobbyists to be deterred by mere facts.
Remember the dramatic surge in gun and ammunition sales that immediately followed Obama’s election? They’re surging again, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade group, as owners fear the weapons won’t be available if Obama is re-elected.
“He’s his own stimulus plan for the gun industry,” said Arkansas Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, according to Politico.
Fear of what Obama might do is being fed by NRA leaders like Wayne LaPierre, who warned in February that Obama’s plan is to “get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom.”
The organization’s 2008 website, gunbanobama.com, is up and running with its headline, “Obama Would Be The Most Anti-Gun President in History” and a link touting, “If Obama Is Pro-Gun, Why Are Leading Anti-Gun and Anti-Hunting Groups Endorsing Him?”
One might just as easily ask, if Obama is so anti-gun, why did one of those endorsers, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, give Obama an “F” for his gun record the following year? The Brady Campaign and other gun control advocates continue to express frustration over actions and inaction by Obama that should bring the NRA delight.
Obama has signed a law that permits Amtrak passengers to carry guns in their checked baggage and another that allows visitors to national parks and wildlife refuges to possess concealed guns. He has not pushed for actions he supported in his 2008 campaign, including closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows unlicensed private firearm sellers to sell weapons at gun shows without conducting the background checks and reporting required of registered gun dealers.
Yet the NRA, which went after Obama with a $40 million advertising and direct-mail campaign last time around, has set aside at least that much for this go-round, Politico reports. Their biggest hot-button issue is Fast and Furious, the Republican-promoted controversy in which Obama invoked executive privilege to block the disclosure of some Justice Department documents to a House committee involving a botched gun-running investigation. If the operation was really part of an Obama plot to ban guns, as some of his critics charge, it would be a far-fetched way to do it.
In this way, the NRA, which likes to call itself the nation’s oldest “oldest continuously operating civil rights organization,” exhibits one of the worst attributes that critics often attribute to conventional civil rights organizations: manufactured outrage. If they don’t have a real enemy of gun rights in the White House, they hammer the administration with inflated accusations and unfounded predictions anyway.
But activist gun owners tend to come from the same demographic that gives the least support to Obama: older white men from rural or outer suburban communities. Even unfounded accusations carry convincing weight with people who already are inclined to believe them.
Like just about everyone else in America, I was glued to my television screen Tuesday night, watching the election results. I’ve been a political junkie for a lot longer than I’ve been a journalist, and I have a solid routine: cold drink, snacks, and fresh batteries in the remote control. Sometimes I’ll even have a list of states and races that I want to keep an eye on.
I enjoy the usually solid reporting from CNN, and the unique insights from the pundits on MSNBC, so I switch back and forth between those channels. But as soon as MSNBC called Ohio for President Barack Obama, declaring the election a done deal shortly before 11 p.m., I quickly turned to Fox News, just to see the reaction from the other side.
Boy, am I glad I did.
Over on Fox, they too declared Ohio a win for Obama minutes later, but the reaction there was quite different. Karl Rove, the G.W. Bush advisor who has become one of the country’s leading conservative fundraisers through his Crossroads GPS political action committee, began a raving rant unlike anything I’ve ever seen on live television.
Rove, hotly disputing the projection, swore up and down that the few votes left uncounted in Ohio were likely Republican votes, and chastised his Fox colleagues for prematurely leaving Romney for dead. The more the other hosts tried to reassure Rove that the numbers were solid, and that the election was indeed over, the angrier and more unhinged he became.
Now red-faced and howling like a scalded dog, Rove forced co-host Megyn Kelly to walk down the hall to the network’s boiler room, cameras in tow. There, at Rove’s insistence, she questioned Fox’s number crunchers, who calmly explained that those Ohio votes remaining were in and around Cleveland, and were mostly rock-solid Democrats. They openly defied, and even ridiculed Rove, the network’s favorite partisan, as delusional and desperate.
This did not sit well with Rove, who raised tens of millions of dollars from his ultra-wealthy clients for the Romney campaign – money that was now disappearing forever in a puff of smoke. How would he convince them that it was money well spent? How can he look them in the face and ask for more in the next election cycle? How can he possibly defend himself intelligently when every single prediction he made was dead wrong?
Now, I know it’s wrong to take delight in the defeat of an enemy – even one as vile as Karl Rove. But considering the level of hate and vitriol the GOP brought to the campaign – the “food stamp president” comments; the lazy, entitled 47 percent, the empty chair; the absolute disrespect for women and minorities, gays, immigrants, and just about everyone else who isn’t a rich white male – I allowed myself a moment of genuine glee as I watched the architect of modern divisive politics, red-faced and sputtering, suffer a nervous breakdown on national television.
An actual moment of sanity on Fox followed, provided, believe it or not, by former presidential candidate and right wing blowhard Mike Huckabee. Huckabee declared rightly that the GOP has a dismal record of reaching out to racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities, and that record has come back to bite them in the nether regions.
It was during a rant by one of the pundits about the supposed racism displayed by Black Americans, more than 90 percent of whom voted for Obama. Huckabee interjected with the truthful line that 90 percent of Blacks have traditionally voted for the Democrats, and that type of thinking discounts the 75 percent of Latinos, the 75 percent of Asians, and the 80 percent of Native Americans who also sided with the president.
South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham also had it right when he told the Washington Post over the summer, “The demographics race we're losing badly. We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
The GOP ignored Graham’s warning at its peril. In the end, there just weren’t enough angry white guys to outnumber the ignored, alienated and disenfranchised Americans that they’ve marginalized for the past two years.
Since Tuesday night, both Republican and Democrat operatives have concluded that to remain viable, the GOP has to fundamentally change its platform and policies to reflect America’s shifting demographics.
They’re right, but I don’t think that will happen.
I think the GOP will double down on the hate. It’s what they do. They will ignore the numbers and forge ahead with an even angrier anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-woman agenda.
The fun part is if they continue to do that, they’ll continue to lose.
Daryl Gale is the city editor of The Philadelphia Tribune.
Mitt Romney wants to have it both ways — he wants to distance himself from Donald Trump’s remarks on President Obama’s birth, but not from Trump himself.
Trump continues to push conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth.
On Tuesday, Trump once again embraced the discredited birther movement by declaring on CNBC that “there are some major questions here that the press doesn’t want to cover.”
“Nothing’s changed my mind,” Trump said, reaffirming his doubts about the president’s Hawaiian birth certificate. “I walk down the street and people are screaming, ‘Please don’t give that up.’”
In response, Romney sought to distance himself from the conspiracy comments while still embracing the man who made the remarks.
“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me, and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”
Aides to Romney have said he does not question the president’s birth and accept that Obama was born in the United States.
After all, doubts about the president’s birthplace have been thoroughly discredited by mainstream news organizations and rejected by Democrat and Republican leadership.
But Romney has shown no willingness to distance himself from Trump.
When confronted with a similar situation Senator John McCain corrected extreme comments he encountered at town-hall meetings during the 2008 presidential campaign.
There has been attempt by some to compare Trump’s comments to Bill Maher, the liberal comedian who has called the Mormon religion a “cult” and has given the Obama campaign a million dollars.
The president has distance himself from Maher’s comments and David Axelrod, a senior adviser, canceled an appearance on Maher’s show. Obama has not held a joint fund-raiser with the comedian, unlike Romney.
For the Romney campaign it is clear that his refusal to denounce Trump is about both receiving money from Trump and an unwillingness to alienate those voters who still believe Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore should not be president
What is also clear that once again Romney who has shown a history of flip flopping on major social issues to gain the support of conservatives has failed once again another test of character and leadership in his unwillingness to strongly denounce extremism.
If you’re Black in America, it appears that the country’s most important political strategists, and its most visible political candidates, have already written you off. They’ve decided, somehow, that you no longer matter, that your vote is not worth “courting,” as they try to gather the support they need to win the upcoming Presidential election.
Strategists in both parties don’t bother reaching out to you because you’ve already made it abundantly clear that you don’t have any issues that you, yourself, are willing to fight for. Republican strategists, specifically, don’t try because they believe we put allegiance to the Democratic Party ahead of all else.
In fact, following a recent highly questionable poll, conducted on behalf of BET, the pollster announced that Barack Obama commanded 94 percent of the Black vote, and that Mitt Romney could claim 0 percent. None, not a single digit, nothing.
It didn’t sound plausible. After all, we all know there will always be SOME Black Americans who still relate to the “Party of Lincoln.” There will always be SOME who consider themselves “conservative,” “extreme capitalists,” members of the “religious right,” or just plain “anti-Democrats,” for their own reasons.
At the same time, Democratic strategists haven’t felt the need to address our issues, because they know they can count on us, like clock-work, providing high-80 percent, and low-90 percent support levels to their party, no matter what.
To the Republicans, therefore, we’re seen as a “lost cause;” to the Democrats we’re considered “cooked, packaged, and ready for delivery.” With our track record of voting overwhelmingly Democratic in presidential elections dating all the way back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and our “love and adoration” for Barack Obama, the Democrats, not surprisingly, feel no concern, at all, that we will stray from the “reservation,” on election day.
So where does that leave us with November 6 fast-approaching?
After marching and dying for the right to vote, after the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, after fighting to register every eligible Black voter in our communities, nationwide, we’ve been reduced to mere “bystanders” in our country’s most important election.
There are 42 million Black people in the U.S. and, as of November, 2010, we constituted 12 percent of all the country’s registered voters. That compares to Hispanics, who represented 7 percent of all registered voters, Asians, who represented 2.5 percent of registered voters, and whites who saw their numbers decline by 2.9 percent, to 77.5 percent of registered voters, by the same date.
When you consider the fact that one out of every eight registered voters in this country is a Black person, it's difficult to accept the fact that both parties, both major candidates, have gone out of their way to exclude us from the national political conversation.
Black unemployment has remained consistently at a level that is about twice as high as white unemployment. In fact, the government recently reported that, as of the end of September, Black unemployment stood at 13.4 percent, while white unemployment was 7.0 percent (Hispanic unemployment, by the way, was announced at 9.9 percent).
Somehow, for some reason, Black folks in this country continue to catch way more hell in the job market than everybody else.
Do we care? Are we holding anybody accountable for that? Do we want that pattern to be turned around by whoever wins on November 6?
If that’s what we want, we certainly haven’t said so. Maybe we’re beginning to believe that it’s normal and appropriate for Black people to be twice as unemployed as whites, more unemployed than Hispanics, and almost three times more unemployed than Asians (4.8 percent).
Maybe what Black folks used to say about themselves, in the South, years ago, is still true: “We’ve been down so long, getting up don’t even cross our minds.”
How about the disproportionately negative impact of high-rate subprime mortgage loans and home foreclosures on the Black community? The Center for Responsible Lending has disclosed that about 11 percent of Black homeowners are in “some state of foreclosure, “ and that more than one million Black families will lose their homes in the year 2012.
The Washington Post has reported that those foreclosure rates would damage the credit scores of future generations of Blacks — permanently.
In addition, due largely to a combination of discriminatory lending practices, and Blacks often being “first-fired” in corporate layoffs, Black home ownership has dropped from 50 percent, six years ago, to 44.8 percent, in 2011. That compares to a 74.1 percent home ownership rate for white Americans.
Who should be held accountable for not interceding with financial institutions and large corporations on our behalf, in these situations? Maybe it should be the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, Mitt Romney and the beloved President Barack Obama. None of them seems to be interested in the job.
Also, schools in Black communities are the most underfunded and the worst-performing in the country, so, as bad as things are now, our futures most likely will be even worse.
How else have candidates demonstrated their complete disregard and disdain for Black voters? Among other things, they leave your communities out of their budgets, and they don’t visit your neighborhoods, when it’s time to make a political speech.
Hey, judging by the content at the last, sorry “presidential debate,” both candidates also seemed to go out of their way to avoid even saying the words "Black," "African American," "West Indian," or "African." Even when the esteemed Mr. Obama talked about his family on Wednesday, he was very careful only to mention the respect and admiration he holds for his grandmother and grandfather, who came from Kansas, while saying not a single word about his grandmother or grandfather from Kenya.
That didn't seem to matter to us.
We were, apparently, too focused on whether the "Republican who ignores us" or the “Democrat who ignores us" put on the best show, during the debate.
There was no outcry about the absence of our issues from the two candidates’ talking points, from any of our so-called Black leaders.
Even worse, since the campaign began, we have been able to identify no senior-level campaign operatives in either the Romney campaign or the Obama campaign. With Black folks having already declared their undying allegiance to Barack Obama and his re-election, we shouldn’t have been shocked by such a situation among the members of the Republican candidate’s brain trust.
But, Team Obama, despite its assumption that Black voters have nowhere else to go, could have benefitted significantly from input at the senior level that might have helped to keep 14 million potential Black voters energized and turned out, on Election Day.
Perhaps we should have gotten a clue when the president opted not to attend the NAACP National Convention, or when he failed to attend the Black Caucus Gala, just last month, or when he joined Romney in declining an invitation from the National Newspaper Publishers Association to engage in a public discussion of Black issues.
After the debate, Team Obama immediately began to circulate among other excuses, the notion that the President’s dispassionate, unfocused and losing performance was based on his concern about being perceived as an “angry Black man."
Hey, there’s a time and a place for everything — including justifiable anger.
What the African-American community needs; in fact, what America needs, is a new generation of intelligent, courageous, issues-focused, “angry Black men and women” to go along with the “angry Hispanics,” “angry Jewish people,” “angry gays," “angry Asians,” and "angry whites” that we already have as part of our national political process.
Until we, in the Black community, identify such people, and put them to work for us, we’ll most certainly continue to be "political bystanders" in our own county’s most important elections.
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.
It may not rank highly in polls of voters’ priorities compared to the jobs and the economy, yet immigration has taken on a central role in the 2012 presidential campaign drama.
Republican presidential debates have been a contest to see who can sound more ferocious toward illegal immigrants. But President Barack Obama can’t afford to enjoy watching his adversaries destroy one another. He’s catching heat from his own base, especially Hispanic voters, for being more punitive than he needs to be.
As a candidate, Obama promised to fix the nation’s immigration system with comprehensive reform — a mixture of, say, secure borders and employer sanctions with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who properly earn it.
However, as president, facing a fiercely uncooperative congressional Republicans, he has contented himself with a numbers game, racking up record numbers of detentions and deportations.
Since Obama took office, detentions and deportations have totaled more than a million, according to the Department of Homeland Security. That’s rapidly approaching the 1.57 million that President George W. Bush deported in two terms.
In the past decade, detentions and deportations have almost doubled, DHS says in its latest annual report, from 209,000 undocumented immigrants in 2001 to almost 400,000 in the fiscal year that just ended.
Unfortunately, with that increase in detentions and deportations there also have come an increase in forced family separations, a rise in complaints of sexual assault and other brutality in detention centers, and a sharp uptick of outrage from Hispanic voters, including supporters who wanted to believe Obama’s promises to fix the broken immigration system.
Even though the president’s stated deportation policy gives priority to murderers, sex offenders, drug traffickers and other hardened criminals, DHS figures show even more have been detained whose only known crime was their illegal status.
The latest annual DHS report says more than half of all immigrant detainees in the fiscal year 2010 had no criminal records. (Of 387,242 total detainees who were deported, only 168,532 were convicted criminals.) Of those with any criminal history, almost 20 percent were merely for traffic offenses.
One disappointed Obama supporter, Maria de Los Angeles Torres, director of Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, called the policy “shameful” in locking up thousands of men and women whose only crime was their illegal status.
“The deportation policy over the past two years has succeeded in criminalizing hard-working people,” she said in a telephone interview. “This policy, as my mother used to say in Cuba, has a first and last name — and it is Barack Obama.”
Although many Hispanic voters think voting Republican would be “out of the frying pan and into the fire,” said pollster Gary Segura of Latino Decisions in a recent PBS Frontline documentary on immigrant detentions, their disaffection could hurt Obama’s election turnout enough to make a difference in closely contested states.
“He got about 70 percent of the Latino vote in 2008,” Segura said. “But the percentage of Latinos saying that they’re certain to vote for the president for reelection hovers in the mid-40s.”
Politics aside, could Obama handle detentions and deportations in a better way? Yes, say immigration lawyers, who point out a list of alternatives available for a president that don’t require congressional approval.
They include prosecutorial discretion and several forms of temporary and humanitarian relief that can be awarded to individuals or groups that can restore some semblance of due process to a system that deprives detainees of almost all rights that those who are officially arrested and charged would have.
It’s hard to believe that President Obama, a former constitutional law lecturer and grassroots community organizer, would not be aware of these alternatives. Instead, with hostile Republicans in Congress giving him the border blues, he has chosen to look tough — even if it causes new problems for thousands of families on top of the rest of the problems he is trying to solve.
E-mail Clarence Page at cpage(at)tribune.com, or write to him c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.