Obama Campaign Readies Black Surrogates For Election Fight
Re-election effort hopes to get boost from black elected officials, Hollywood stars
Courting the black vote has always been a task with which Democrats have struggled. White (and black) candidates have to perform a carefully choreographed dance to signal that they aren’t taking the black voting bloc for granted.
The same is true for groups overseeing the re-election of President Barack Obama. In the fall, these groups are up against a growing apathy within the disproportionately unemployed and underwhelmed black community.
This week, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz briefed a roundtable of black media outlets on the party’s plans to ramp up outreach to the African American community.
“Never forget your base,” Wasserman Shultz said of the advice candidates get from the party. “You dance with the ones that run you.”
And dance the president’s re-election campaign will. Although Wasserman Shultz confirmed a few of the names, a source familiar with the Obama campaign released a list of a dozen high-profile African American voices, who have been tapped as surrogates for the president’s re-election pitch.
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The list of politicians and party strategists: Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard, Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Rep. Karen Bass, Democratic strategist and political analyst Donna Brazile, California attorney general Kamala Harris, Newark mayor Corey Booker, Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, and Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.
Also on the list: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, and Hollywood actresses Gabrielle Union and Keshia Knight Pullium.
Alone, those names are enough to offset the few dissenters within the black community, who publicly criticized President Obama for lackluster efforts to stem black unemployment and other issues affecting the community.
Although the president’s support among black voters remains strong, Democratic groups say they will focus their efforts on encouraging the same African American voters, who in some respects turned out in record numbers in 2008, to return to the polls this fall.