COMMENTARY: Obama Making Blacks a Priority

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But heavy black voter turnout isn’t the only concern within the Obama campaign. Obama also needs money: The Romney financial blitz prompted Obama to write a letter to donors warning supporters that he could trail Romney by historic proportions. Romney has raised more money than Obama two months in a row.

“I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his reelection campaign, if things continue as they have so far,” Obama wrote.

So here’s the problem: the black unemployment rate remains at an unacceptable 14.4 percent, which means many of the 23 million Americans who are out of work are black.

Several black Democrats who donated to Obama’s campaign in 2008 tell me they won’t be able to contribute this time around. And these people are not alone. I suspect the campaign could see a drop in donations among African-Americans simply because so many black folks are unemployed.

Still, the Urban League was a good place for Obama to take his campaign message because, overall, the Urban League attracts corporate executives and upwardly mobile African-Americans, many of whom are employed.

Obama’s speech to the Urban League comes as the Urban Institute’s Unemployment and Recovery report shows how badly black Americans are hurting.

“For black workers, it’s a one-two punch to their economic security: blacks are not only disproportionately more likely than whites or Hispanics to experience long-term unemployment, they are less likely than whites to benefit from unemployment insurance,” according to the Urban Institute report.

The report said that African-Americans, 11.6 percent of the labor force in February, were 22.9 percent of those unemployed for more than six months.

Three months before the November election, Obama’s challenge is to fire up his base and try to recapture that historic enthusiasm from the 2008 campaign.

“We still have much more work to do,” Obama told the Urban League. “There’s still too many out of work, too many homes underwater, too many Americans struggling to stay afloat…I still believe in you.  And if you still believe in me, I ask you to stand with me, march with me, fight with me.”

This was Obama’s rallying call to black America: the president is counting on millions of black folks to march to the polls in 103 days so Obama does not go down in history as a one-term commander-in-chief.

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