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Frank Rich: Hillary Deserted Blacks for Latinos

Monday, 11 Feb 2008 10:33 AM

By Newsmax Staff

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The Hillary Clinton campaign gave up courting African-American voters and instead focused on Hispanics in a move “tainted by a creepy racial back story,” according to New York Times columnist Frank Rich.

In a blistering attack on the Hillary campaign, Rich used as his taking off point Clinton’s live prime-time special on the Hallmark Channel and the Internet the night before Super Tuesday, “Voices Across America: A National Town Hall.”

In the event’s “carefully calibrated cross-section of geographically and demographically diverse cast members — young, old, one gay man, one vet, two union members — African-Americans were reduced to also-rans,” Rich observed.

One black woman was given the “servile” role of moderator, and a few black faces could be seen in the audience, but during the televised hour not one African-American was given the opportunity to ask Clinton a question.

“This decision was a cold, political cost-benefit calculus,” Rich writes.

In October, Clinton led Barack Obama in one poll by a margin of 62 percent to 34 percent. But as Obama’s support among black voters grew, Bill Clinton and the rest of the Hillary campaign “stopped caring about what African-Americans thought,” said Rich, adding:

“In an effort to scare off white voters, Mr. Obama was ghettoized as a cocaine user (by the chief Clinton strategist, Mark Penn, among others), “the black candidate” (as Clinton strategists told the Associated Press), and Jesse Jackson redux (by Mr. Clinton himself.)

“The result? Black American has largely deserted the Clintons.”

In the California primary on Super Tuesday, Clinton received only 19 percent of the black vote after her campaign focused on wooing the state’s large Latino population. Among the moves: including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the Hallmark event.

“But the wholesale substitution of Hispanics for blacks on the Hallmark show is tainted by a creepy racial back story,” Rich asserted. “Last month a Hispanic pollster employed by the Clinton campaign pitted the two groups against each other by telling The New Yorker that Hispanic voters have ‘not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.’”

That claim was “a bigoted lie,” said Rich, “given that it branded Hispanics, a group as heterogeneous as any other, as monolithic racists.”

In fact, Hispanic voters have historically shown no reluctance to vote for black candidates, and Hillary’s once solid support among Latino voters has begun to erode, according to the Super Tuesday results in a number of states.

With the Clinton now nervously considering the possibility that her expected support from Hispanic voters may not materialize in the crucial Texas primary on March 4, Rich reports that the campaign may well try to convince Democratic Party officials to count the results of the Florida and Michigan primaries.

The party has ruled that the national convention will not count delegates from those two states because Florida and Michigan went against the party’s wishes and moved up their primaries. Clinton won both “beauty contest” primaries.

“You now hear Clinton operatives talk ever more brazenly about trying to reverse party rulings so that they can hijack 366 ghost delegates from Florida and the other rogue primary, Michigan,” Rich concludes, “where Mr. Obama wasn’t even on the ballot.”

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