Racial Issues Haunting Clinton, Obama Supporters

This issue was largely put to bed publicly in the Democratic debate on Tuesday night. However, behind the scenes many groups and politicians have continued to perpetuate the race issues between Clinton and Obama. There are a slew of stories out on this issue, below I’ll examine many of them.

First, this from the Politico:

The radio ad aired by one of Obama’s labor allies re-injects ethnicity into the Democratic primary contest in sharp terms.

“Hillary Clinton does not respect our people,” the ad says in Spanish (original and Clinton campaign translation after the jump), referring to the lawsuit that failed today to shut down special caucus sites on Las Vegas’ strip. “Hillary Clinton is shameless.”

“Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people. Sen. Obama’s campaign slogan is ‘Si Se Puede.’ Vote for a president who respects us, and who respects our right to vote,” the ad says, according to a transcript provided by the Clinton campaign and confirmed in part by a union official.

The ad is alleging that the lawsuit to change or halt the Nevada caucus time of 11:30am this Saturday was started by the Clinton campaign. I think this sort of ad is getting pretty low on the scale of presidential politics.

Then there’s this story from the Rocky Mountain News about a rather awful joke at Obama’s expense:

A Greeley businessman apologized Wednesday after a joke about Illinois Sen. Barack Obama fell flat during the National Western Stock Show’s annual Citizen of the West banquet.

William R. Farr was pretending to read telegrams congratulating this year’s award recipient, University of Colorado President Hank Brown, when he pulled out a piece of paper and said, “I have a telegram from the White House.”

Then he added, “They’re going to have to change the name of that building if Obama’s elected.”

Witnesses said they could hear people gasp in the ballroom of the Adam’s Mark Hotel.

This was mainly just a simple bad joke not related to anyone’s campaign. Still, because of the unspoken tension brought about by the Clinton’s statements last week, I think it made a bigger ripple in the national media.

Next, this story from the Baltimore Sun on Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, preaching about why people shouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton:

Some argue that blacks should vote for Clinton “because her husband was good to us,” he continued.

“That’s not true,” he thundered. “He did the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky.”

Many in the crowd were on their feet, applauding – amazed, amused and moved by the fiery rhetoric of their preacher, who is about to retire.

It is just such rhetoric that has made Wright’s remarks an occasional staple on conservative talk shows. They often make the rounds in anti-Obama e-mail.

While Wright isn’t directly associated with Obama’s campaign, this is still more rhetoric being added to this racial fire. There’s a serious divide over these kinds of issues.

Finally, the last story about the Congressional Black Caucus from the Politico:

Even though Barack Obama may become the first African-American ever to represent a major party as the nominee for president, many black lawmakers on Capitol Hill are not supporting him. And that’s creating tensions within the Congressional Black Caucus.

More than a third of the black members of Congress are backing Hillary Rodham Clinton or John Edwards in the presidential primary, a stance that puts them at odds with many of their African-American constituents, who, recent polls show, are beginning to shift to Obama’s camp.

So the idea now is that if you’re a member of Black Congressional Caucus and you now support Hillary, you’re basically saying that a black man can’t get elected. That’s the stigma being tossed around between members.

All of this is stunning to watch since there aren’t supposed to be racial divides in liberal circles or in the Democratic Party. In fact, Democrats often accuse Republicans of not being inclusive enough of minorities. So why then is there such a divide and this continued controversy over supporting Obama or Clinton as the Democratic nominee? Most of these stories are about supporters on each side which of course don’t speak for the campaigns or the candidates. However, I worry that many of these statements are now getting bigger play due to last week’s controversy.

It will be interesting to see how this develops and how the race issue manifests in Nevada and South Carolina. I would like to hear from Clinton and Obama supporters on this issue, does this stuff turn people off?