Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have taken President Barack Obama to task for not giving enough attention to issues of concern for the African-American community. And now their primary opponents are trying to make them pay for that criticism — at the same time playing up their own support for the nation’s first black president, Politico
That would seem to be a wise strategy, given that Obama maintains overwhelming support among black voters. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that they support him over Mitt Romney 95 percent to 3 percent. And the strategy is working in at least one sense, forcing the incumbents to announce their love for Obama.
After the president’s debt-ceiling agreement with Republicans, Michigan Rep. John Conyers advocated a protest demonstration against the White House. Now his primary opponent, Bert Johnson, is seeking to take advantage of that stance.
“While I wish the final contents of this bill were different, turning our ire on our president, as Rep. John Conyers and a handful of his colleagues unfortunately have done, is the wrong thing to do,” the state senator wrote on The Huffington Post. “We should not pull the rug out from underneath the president when he needs our solidarity the most.”
Johnson is playing up the issue on the campaign trail. “Trying to chop off the head of the president is a very destructive thing that divides us,” he told Politico.
Conyers isn’t embracing an anti-Obama stance and holds out hope for the president’s endorsement, campaign spokesman John Barlow told Politico. “John Conyers supports the president. He meets with the president regularly to make sure he and the president are doing the right things for Wayne County and Detroit,” Barlow said.
Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is another caucus member who has criticized Obama and is hearing about it from his opponent. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who is white, told Politico, “There have been times when the congressman has spoken out against the president for not doing enough.” She said voters “really should have a person who stands with this president, who in this district is loved and revered.”
Jackson’s camp is quick to respond that the congressman doesn’t stand against Obama. While Jackson has urged Obama to act more forcefully, “we have never hinted or said that we do not support him just because we want him to do more,” Jackson spokesman Frank Watkins told Politico.
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