Congressional Black Caucus Split Between Clinton and Obama
NNPA , News Report, Hazel Trice Edney Posted: Jan 08, 2008
Editor's Note:The majority of the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus who have chosen to endorse in the race is split 15-15 Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – As America prepares for a string of primaries and caucuses to determine who will be its next Democratic and Republican nominees for president, the majority of the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus who have chosen to endorse in the race is split 15-15 between CBC member Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. In interviews this week, CBC members pointed mainly to the candidates’ stances on specific issues as the reasons for their endorsements.
“He is the most likely to actually produce change in areas that make a difference – home ownership, education, health care, crime policy,” says U. S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), explaining his endorsement of Obama. Scott, who chairs the House Crime Subcommittee, says, “For years we’ve concentrated on and focused more on codifying… sound bites rather than seriously addressing crime.''
He adds that he is impressed with Obama’s record on health care and the war in Iraq.
“He led the charge to get more people health insurance in the Illinois legislature…He also had the strength of character and courage to stand up against the Iraqi war.”
U. S Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), who has announced her endorsement of Clinton, says she believes Clinton’s long record of service to children shows where her heart really is.
She says she is especially impressed that Clinton, as a young lawyer, served as a staff attorney for Marian Wright Edelman's Children's Defense Fund during her post graduate studies and that she served as a consultant to the Carnegie Council on Children.
“This is a very important election and I do think that as people begin to know Sen. Clinton and they know her personally and they know her story, she has an enormously convincing story of someone who has empathy and out of empathy, one can act upon the pain of others and the joy of others,” says Jackson-Lee.
While Scott says his endorsement of Obama has nothing to do with the fact that he is Black, Jackson-Lee made no bones about what she sees as an opportunity to raise the ceiling for women in America.
“I do think that as women, whether it is minority women or majority women, we have a long way to go. Now, it is frankly innovative and inspiring that America would find its way to possibly selecting someone who has both talent and experience who happens to be a woman, which would make us move to where countries around the world have already gone in selecting women as heads of state,” Jackson-Lee says.
John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, has three endorsements from CBC members.
''Too many women are not getting the health care they need,'' said U. S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) in a statement posted on the Edwards campaign website. ''John Edwards is the only candidate to outline a specific plan to provide universal coverage and I'm proud to be part of a campaign—the only campaign—with a detailed plan to cover all Americans.''
Eight CBC members had not made public endorsements by NNPA deadline.
The 15-15 Clinton-Obama split among the CBC members closely reflects the dividing lines among Black voters, according to polls.
A poll taken between Oct. 5 and Nov. 2 by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies showed Clinton with 83 percent of Black votes, compared to Obama, who then had 74 percent. About 10 percent of those surveyed viewed them both negatively.
Voters must decide between two Democratic front-runners in a heated race for the White House, which has been run by Republican President George Bush for eight years. Most Bush performance approval ratings are under 40 percent. Plus, about 160,000 troops are still stationed in Iraq in a war that more than half of Americans want ended, according to Pew Research opinion polls. Democrats are banking on these facts to win back the White House.
Leading Republican candidates are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennesee Sen. Thompson, Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
In recent history, Blacks have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates for president.
The split between the all-Democratic members of the CBC is as follows: Endorsing Hillary Clinton are Lee, Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio; Kendrick Meek, Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings of Florida; Yvette Clarke, Charles Rangel, Gregory Meeks and Edolphus Towns of New York; Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri; Dianne Watson and Laura Richardson of California; David Scott and John Lewis of Georgia; and Donna Christian-Christensen (V.I.).
Endorsing Barack Obama are Scott, Danny Davis, Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois; Barbara Lee of California; Artur Davis of Alabama; Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; Lacy Clay of Missouri; Elijah Cummings of Maryland; Sanford Bishop and Hank Johnson of Georgia; John Conyers of Michigan; Keith Ellison of Minnesota; Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania; and Al Green of Texas.
Endorsing John Edwards are: Johnson of Texas; Mel Watt and G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina.
Those who had not endorsed by NNPA deadline were: Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C.; Jim Clyburn of South Carolina; Bennie Thompson of Mississippi; Al Wynn of Maryland; William Jefferson of Louisiana; Donald Payne of New Jersey, Maxine Waters of California and CBC Chairwoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan.
The Clinton-Obama choice is complicated by questions over whether America will really elect Clinton as its first woman or Obama as its first African-American president while both race and gender – specifically the Black race and the female gender - have historically been excuses for prejudice and discrimination in America. However, poll readings show both Democratic front-runners as being well ahead of their Republican opponents.
The focus is currently on the state of Iowa and its early Democratic Presidential Primary Jan. 3 and the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8. Obama leads slightly in Iowa and Clinton in New Hampshire.
But, pundits predict that Super Tuesday, Feb. 5 will be the deciding factor for who will likely win enough delegates for the Democratic nomination in Denver, Colo. Aug. 25-28. Super Tuesday is when 22 states will hold primaries and caucuses.
Scott says he believes Obama could win a general election despite racial prejudices.
“If he wins Iowa, he would be favored in New Hampshire and if he wins New Hampshire, he’ll have a lock on South Carolina, which would put him well-postured to compete on Super Tuesday and he’ll have enough money,” Scott says.
It’ll be easier for Obama to win a national election than a Republican, Scott predicts.
“You have the worst job performance since Herbert Hoover. You’ve got the foreclosures at record highs. You’ve got the median income significantly lower,” he says. “By the time the year is out, if people have a chance to look at the Republican administration, I think any Republican candidate will be hard-pressed to do well.”
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