ANALYSIS: Obama’s Not the President of Black America

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  • While President Barack Obama crisscrosses the country preparing for the final 90-day stretch before Election Day, he’s made one thing clear to his constituents: “I’m not the president of black America.”

    In an interview with Black Enterprise, Obama was asked to respond to criticism that his administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses.

    “My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed,” Obama says in the August issue of the magazine. “I want all Americans to have opportunity. I’m not the president of black America.”

    “I’m the president of the United States of America," Obama said, "but the programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody. So, I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African-American businesses.”

    Despite his reflective declaration, Obama will still receive overwhelming support from African-American voters. Obama garnered 95 percent of the black vote in 2008 and his campaign aides would like to replicate the enthusiasm from Obama’s historic victory since Obama is America’s first black president.

    Civil rights groups, including The NAACP and The National Urban League, have been working on Obama's behalf, walking door-to-door, making phone calls and hosting backyard barbecues — all part of what Democrats are calling the largest grass-roots presidential campaign in history.

    Black celebrities are also offering their support and their money. Last month, actor Morgan Freeman donated $1 million to Obama's campaign.

    "President Obama has done a remarkable job in terrible circumstances," Freeman said. "He has ended combat operations in Iraq, put in place sensible reforms of Wall Street, saved the auto industry and protected the healthcare of every American with a preexisting condition. In return for this he is being targeted by hundreds of millions of dollars in special-interest money. I for one am proud to lend my voice – and support – to those who defend him."

    Even actor Harry Belafonte weighed in this week on the presidential race. Asked whether he’d like Romney to win the election, Belafonte told the Hollywood Reporter: “Only if I would like to see the end of civilization. No, absolutely not. Mitt Romney is not my cup of tea at all."

    To energize the electorate with sports-related events, the Obama campaign announced this week that supporters can have an opportunity to attend a basketball fund raiser, “The Obama Classic,” with stars Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Carmelo Anthony and Alonzo Mourning.

    "Imagine shooting hoops" with those stars, deputy national field director Marlon Marshall wrote in an email to supporters. "Now stop dreaming and make it happen. You and a guest of your choice could join President Obama and some of the greatest basketball stars for a special night at the Obama Classic."

    "Pitch in $3 or whatever you can, and you'll be automatically entered for a chance to win," Marshall wrote. "Hit the court with Patrick Ewing and Melo? Trade stories with the President? This is the kind of stuff your kids will tell their kids, and no one will believe it until you show them a photo."

    Through a series of high-profile events, the Obama campaign is hoping to raise more money this quarter after trailing Republican Mitt Romney in fund raising for three straight months. Romney reported July donations of more than $101 million along with the Republican National Committee, compared to the $75 million that Obama’s campaign said it had collected.

    But in a recent email to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina says he's not concerned about Romney's fundraising bonanza.

    "Look, no one expects this campaign to keep pace with the Romney money juggernaut. That's OK by me," Messina wrote in a fundraising email to supporters. "What we can't let happen is finding ourselves in October, staring down the final weeks of this campaign without the resources to get our message in front of enough voters."

    "Yesterday, we learned that for the third month in a row, we've been outraised by the other side in this race," Messina wrote. "Now we're seeing how that plays out: In battleground states across the country, they're piling on the negative TV advertising."

    Messina’s e-mails to supporters comes as new polls show Obama leading Romney by four points, 49 percent to 45 percent in Virginia, and by six points, 51 percent to 45 percent, in Wisconsin, according to a joint poll by Quinnipiac University, CBS News and The New York Times. In Colorado, Obama trailed by five points, with 45 percent to Romney's 50 percent.

    And in a sign that Obama is stepping up his attacks on Romney, the president ridiculed his Republican rival during a fund raiser in Connecticut this week.

    "He'd ask the middle class to pay more taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year," Obama said. "It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood!"
     

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