early and often

Today in the Presidential Race: Race!

Hillary Obama Race

Photo: Getty Images

Just as Hillary last week renewed the debate over whether her gender was a factor in the Democratic primary, this weekend she raised the same question over Barack Obama’s race. Her aggressive appearance on Meet the Press largely focused on remarks she had previously made about Barack Obama in comparison to Martin Luther King Jr. She tried to back up her idea (basically, that MLK is not like Obama because MLK worked for decades, and needed the help of elected officials, to get his goals achieved) and also accused the Obama camp of implying that there was a racial controversy buried in her words. Her tortuous explanation (much too convoluted to get into in a blog post), and the resulting interpretations, are still raising hackles this morning.

• Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, speaking yesterday, sparked a firestorm of debate after saying: “An African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood — and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book — when they have been involved.” The Obama campaign reacted angrily, finding a reference to Obama’s admitted childhood drug use in Johnson’s words, an inference Johnson disputes. [The Caucus/NYT]

• New America Foundation fellow Steven Clemons pointed out that if Obama is indeed trying to bring race into the equation, this is a distressing new turn. “Barack Obama in Iowa was trying to be the candidate who had finally transcended race in this nation.” [HuffPo]
• And for the first time, John Edwards jumped into the fray between the two, to earn a place in today’s coverage. “As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel an enormous amount of pride when I see the success that Senator Barack Obama is having in this campaign,” Edwards said during an appearance at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter. He went on to take a swipe at Bill Clinton, who called part of Obama’s campaign strategy a “fairy tale”: “Those who believe that real change starts with Washington politicians have been in Washington too long — and are living in a fairy tale.” [WP]
MSNBC.com looked ahead to the general election, with a worried take: “Women and African Americans are the two most reliable Democratic voting blocs,” they write. “And one of them will be greatly disappointed (and hurt) when we finally have a Dem nominee.” The Website went on to wonder whether the only (far-fetched) solution for a united party then will be for the two to run together. [MSNBC]
• Opinion writer Errol Louis, who felt that Obama had been wronged, saw the dire consequences in simpler terms: “Sadly, the victim is not just Obama himself, but the broader public, especially Obama’s most important target constituency — people grown cynical or apathetic about politics who don’t normally vote.” [NYDN]

Hillary Clinton [MSNBC]
Earlier: Hillary Clinton: Minority Candidate

Today in the Presidential Race: Race!