Bogus Focus: NYTimes Is Wrong – Hillary Clinton Is Not Losing the African-American Vote to Obama

According to a trumped up story in today’s New York Times:

“Only a few months ago, the vast majority of black elected officials in New York were expected to support the presidential candidacy of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But no longer.In a series of interviews, a significant number of those officials now say they are undecided about whether to back Mrs. Clinton or one of her main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the only black politician in the race.”

Is this true? Can it be so? Is Bill Clinton trembling in tears in his Harlem office? The answer is NO.

Are NY black elected officials “no longer” expected to support Hillary? Let’s examine briefly the bogus NYTimes story. Notice in the very first two short paragraphs how the “reporter” lowers the bar from “the vast majority of black elected officials” to “a significant number of those officials”. Obviously the reporter did not interview either the “vast majority” nor even a “significant number” of black elected officials. If he did interview them all he came up with precious little for his efforts. We do learn that the most important African-American NY leaders are on the Hillary team. Bill Lynch, a major political player and David Dinkins, the former NYState Democratic Party Chairman and of course the Dean of the NY congressional delegation and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Representative Charles Rangel.

There is one African-American quoted in the story stating that he might support Obama. His name is Adam Clayton Powell IV whose feud with Charlie Rangel is an epic tale in Harlem and who does not let any occasion pass in which he can tweak Congressman Rangel’s nose. Other African-American leaders are quoted to the effect that it is difficult to not support a black candidate in a race. This is reasonable and hardly surprising and certainly not worth the ink spent on this sensationalistic story with so little substance. In fact, Representative Gregory Meeks, who has endorsed Hillary states that there is an element of “ethnic pride” but that Hillary has the edge over Obama when it comes to the African-American vote. Meeks clearly contradicts the main premise of the story. The majority of those quoted agree with Meeks.

The story quotes an interview with Representative Rangel in which he “pointedly noted that he did not know of any elected official in New York who had actually endorsed Mr. Obama”. Rangel continues to demolish the story line in this bogus story by noting that “it was just a matter of time” before those black leaders who have not already backed her decide to endorse her.

Credit must be given to Obama for recognizing the futility of his position. The story notes that “many of the leaders interviewed said they had not heard from Mr. Obama or officials in his campaign”.

Now, let us also give credit to Ben Smith at Politico.com for pointing out a few additional facts. Smith notes “However, many of the black New York politicians who have decided to come out for Obama — and aren’t, as the Times reported today, still torn about the choice — remain, more or less, the people you’d aexpect [sic] to endorse against the state’s establishment.”

Smith documents stronger African-American support for Hillary over obama:

“The recent Zogby poll, for instance, which has her up in
South Carolina, puts her at 43-30 among African Americans.”

“Siena’s New York poll has her leading 41-36 among African American voters in New York.”

“And nationwide, she’s up 53-36 among African Americans, according to last week’s CNN poll (click “poll results), with similar (if slightly lower) numbers in other national polls.”

One last point. Here is Congressman Rangel discussing Obama:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to presidential politics. You encouraged Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, to run from president. Why?
REP. RANGEL: Because he was a young, attractive minority candidate that had so much wind under his wings that I told him if he didn’t run, he’d spend the rest of his life regretting it. I don’t think that he will be there for the final rounds, but he’s a young candidate, and he’s got a bright future in the Senate, and he gets another chance at it in eight years.
MR. RUSSERT: You’re supporting Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Why?
REP. RANGEL: Well, first of all, she’s an exciting, qualified candidate with eight years experience in the White House, she’s my junior senator from New York, and she’s our favorite daughter. And, and quite frankly, I don’t think anyone comes near to her qualifications to be a great president.MR. RUSSERT: You don’t think Senator Obama is as qualified as Hillary Clinton?
REP. RANGEL: You don’t mean qualified, of course not. But he’s exciting, and he’s catching on in terms of popularity. But in terms of qualification and background, I don’t think anyone says that he has it now. But it doesn’t mean that bright people can’t acquire the talents that’re necessary. But at this point in time, I think it’s fair to say he’s eloquent, he’s bright, and not as qualified as Hillary Clinton.

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