African American protestors heckle Obama
Fri Aug 1, 2008
African American protestors holding a banner reading "What about the black community Obama?" heckled Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in Florida on Friday. Three men stood up as Obama was talking about the economy during a townhall meeting in St Petersburg in Florida, a key battleground state in Obama's duel with Republican John McCain in November's election."What about the black community?" the protestors chanted, prompting Obama's crowd of supporters to chant his slogan "Yes We Can" to drown them out. "Excuse me, young man, this is going to be a question and answer session, so you can ask a question later," Obama told the protestors."Sit down. You'll have a chance to ask your questions, but you don't want to disrupt the whole meeting. Just be courteous," he said, before going back to his prepared remarks.
Obama garnered huge support among African American voters during his Democratic primary campaign against Hillary Clinton.But last month, civil rights icon Jesse Jackson, in a lurid remark picked up by a live television microphone, accused Obama of "talking down to black people," reviving the debate about race in the 2008 campaign. Obama, son of a white mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father, has made a concerted attempt to ensure that he is not perceived solely as a "black candidate" during his campaign, even though he is trying to become the first African American president. On Thursday, the McCain campaign accused Obama of playing the "race card" himself after the Illinois senator said Republicans would try to highlight the fact that he did not look like other presidents featured on US dollar bills.
Who started it? McCain, Obama camps trade barbs
By Douglass K Daniel,
Associated Press Writer
Fri Aug 1, 2008
Trading charges anew over who was guilty of injecting race into the presidential debate, a subject unlikely to fade away, the campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama also blamed each other Friday for its increasingly negative tone. McCain has accused Obama of playing politics with race for predicting that the likely Republican nominee and others in the GOP would try to scare voters by saying the Democrat "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills." Obama's spokesmen denied he was referring to being black, although all the presidents on U.S. currency are white.
Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said Friday that race became an issue only when the McCain campaign cast a racial slant on Obama's remarks, which were made at a campaign swing Wednesday in rural Missouri. The next day, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis issued a statement claiming that Obama had played "the race card" and calling the remarks "divisive, negative, shameful and wrong." "We are not going to let anybody paint John McCain, who has fought his entire life for equal rights for everyone, to be able to be painted as racist," Davis said Friday on "Today" on NBC. "We've seen this happen before and we're not going to let it happen to us."
In fact, McCain voted against a federal holiday honoring civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He has said he was wrong to vote against the establishment of the holiday. Axelrod rejected the charge and repeated the assertion that Obama was talking about his status as a young, relative newcomer to Washington politics."Barack Obama never called John McCain a racist," Axelrod said on "The Early Show" on CBS. "What Barack Obama was saying is he's not exactly from Central Casting for presidential candidates."
Axelrod criticized McCain for saying he was "proud" of a TV spot linking Obama to stars Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and suggesting that while popular around the world Obama wasn't qualified to lead the U.S."They've been running a negative campaign for weeks," Axelrod said on NBC. "We're not going negative in return. We're refuting the charges." Davis, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," countered: "It's a great ad and everybody's talking about it and we're having a great time with it." As far as who was responsible for the campaign's negative tone, Davis said on NBC: "We didn't draw first blood. I mean, this campaign has been rough and tumble since the day Barack Obama got his nomination, and we've withered under the attacks of the Obama campaign on a daily basis."