President Barack Obama's near-complete absence during his presidency from more than 25 percent of all states has deepened the country's partisan and racial divide, The New York Times reports
Even some commentators aligned with the president say he hasn't done enough to bring together America's increasingly disparate demographic groups and regions.
"Every president should make an attempt to bridge the divide," Donna Brazile, an African-American Democratic strategist and a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, told The Times. "It's a tall order. I wouldn't give him high marks."
Obama's failure to shore-up national unity is even more significant, the paper notes, because of the racial significance of his emergence on the national stage, and the promises earlier in his political career to build bridges.
The paper pointed out that in his 2004 Democratic Convention speech, Obama said, "Pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. There's not a liberal America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There's the United States of America."
Yet Obama's selected travel destinations since becoming president have largely reflected the strategic voter targeting of his presidential campaigns, with ongoing priority given to Democratic-leaning and swing states, the paper noted.
Nevertheless, there are those who say America's political polarization was a long time coming, and they blame obstinate congressional Republicans, and their openly adversarial stance toward the president's agenda, for the nation's increasingly divisive political atmosphere.
"A lot of where the president goes has to do with where he can influence the public to influence the people in Congress who are potential votes," David Axelrod, the Democratic strategist, told The Times.
"It'd be great for him, if he had the time, to barnstorm the red states and meet people. I don't know how fundamentally that would change things."
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