Women for Obama tour a roaring success

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Caroline started off, Oprah broke it down, Michelle kept it real, and Maria Shriver surprised everybody and spoke from the heart. The Kennedyesque themes of hope and opportunity are reaching people all over the nation and Obama is rapidly closing the gap. Nayayers like Juan Williams believe that Hillary still has a huge advantage, others see that this race is far from over and will not be decided on Super Tuesday.

Senator Obama himself spoke to a crowd of over 20,000 in Delaware while Bill Clinton was banished to the chitlin circuit of Los Angeles black churches to hawk his snake oil for Hillary. CNN described his foray as a “mea culpa tour.” I think its too little and too late for most blackfolk. Clinton is reduced to having Negro surrogates vouch for him and introduce him to African American audiences now. Before he sought to racially polarize people, that would have been unnecessary. He could have gone anywhere to talk to blackfolks and been received warmly. Now, folks have to remember that they are in the House of the Lord and remain polite. Sad.

The one thing that mystifies me is the stasis field a lot of African Americans seem to be stuck in torn between Hillary and Obama. I never thought it would be a tough choice for somebody like Snoop Dog. The Clintons would like nothing better than to diss somebody like him for a 21st century Sistah Souljah moment. I thought the brotha could see that.

The Clintons are so desperate for Negro support now that they will go anywhere and do anything for it. Hopefully folk won’t fall for the okeydoke.

As for the polls, they’re all headed in one direction-toward Obama. The only question is whether there is enough time between now and Tuesday to overcome Hillary completely.

Obama-Clinton CNN Showdown Tonight

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Obama and Clinton

Tonight’s debate is sure to mimic with its intensity and fervor the series of civil wars called the Wars of the Roses fought in the fifteenth century over the British Throne between the Houses of York and Lancaster.   The throne of Imperialist power, the Presidency of the United States, is tonight’s ultimate prize.    

The War of the Roses, named for a scene in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 1, where the Houses chose sides by picking a rose, was a bitter, protracted, and scorching war. Tonight’s debate promises to be the same.   The battle lines have been rigidly drawn between the Houses of Obama and Clinton.   The Congressional Black Caucus, according to The Hill, a Washington Newspaper, is evenly divided between the House of Clinton and the House of Obama with 17 members each.  Tempers are flaring and lines have been drawn in the sand.  

The last such nomination battle between President Carter and Teddy Kennedy was equally divisive and created the same fissures in the unanimity of the Congressional Black Caucus.   Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Mel Watt, both former Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, have lost their champion, former Senator John Edwards.   The competition to land their endorsements is fierce and all eyes are on them to observe which side they ultimately choose, if they choose at all.      

Tonight’s debate is sure to be a Shakespearean kabuki dance with each side loaded and ready for bear.  Shakespeare’s classic dialog says it best and I can easily envision tonight’s combatant’s reciting the lines:“Then Come, O’ God’s name; I fear no woman.”   “And while I live, I’ll ne’er fly from a man.”

Cynthia McKinney registers to vote in California as Green, moves toward Presidential bid

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Hat Tip: By Jeffry Scott, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney seems to have ended any notions of running again for state office in Georgia and has registered to vote in California where she is still considering a run for president on the Green Party ticket.

In recent weeks McKinney — who last month posted a letter on her Web site declaring that she had no interest in the Green Party nomination — has appeared at fund-raisers in California, where a group named Run! Cynthia! Run! is trying to draft her as the party’s candidate in California.

McKinney’s name already is on the ballot in California, along with six other Green Party candidates, including Ralph Nader. She and the others were nominated by a Green Party convention in September in California.

The fact that McKinney’s name remains on the ballot has given supporters hope, said John Morton, a California Green Party delegate.

“She’s got us all guessing, but she hasn’t removed her name, and that’s a good sign. I talked to her last week, and she said she’s very interested but not ready to make an announcement.”

Two weekends ago McKinney attended a rally with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who is running for the San Francisco seat held by Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy’s Pelosi. Sheehan told the crowd that McKinney is running for president.

McKinney, who served five often-provocative terms as a U.S. congresswoman representing voters in DeKalb County and roughly the southeastern section of metro Atlanta, has been registered to vote in Marin County since May 4, 2007, according to records at the Marin County Registrar of Voters. Marin is a county north of San Francisco.

According to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, she is still registered to vote in Georgia, but has not voted since December 2006. Secretary of state director of media Matt Carrothers said state law does not require she notify the state that she is now a registered voter in California.

“But since she is registered to vote there, she cannot vote in Georgia,” Carrothers said.

Vicki Leidner, chairwoman of the Feminst Issues Group of the San Francisco Green Party, hosted a fund-raiser for McKinney two weekends ago when, she said, “we raised a good chunk of money, especially for someone who hasn’t declared she is running.”

Leidner said McKinney has sought to keep a low profile in moving to the San Francisco area, where she has been accepted as a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley. “After you been through the things she’s been through, you learn to be a little quiet about things,” Leidner said.

Brent McMillan, political director for the national Green Party, said the party also is seeking to get her name on the ballot in Illinois. “California and Illinois are the first- and second-largest Green Party states.”

McKinney is not yet registered as a presidential candidate in Illinois, and, by law, cannot register before Oct. 29. To register she must first submit a petition with between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures to be eligible.

California delegate Morton said McKinney has a place in Marin County but he believes she still divides her time between San Francisco and Atlanta.

“We expect her to move out here by the first of the year,” he said. “She still has matters to deal with back in Atlanta.” Morton said he believes McKinney, who the Green Party courted to run in 2004, is the perfect Green candidate.

“She’s very outspoken, and even when she was a Democrat she didn’t follow the dictates of the party,” he said. “She has a Green mind, believes in social justice, is against the war.”

McKinney could not be reached for comment.

Cynthia McKinney leaves democratic party, tests waters for Green Presidential bid

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Cynthia McKinney, a former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia, was in California this weekend to test the waters for a potential bid for the Green Party’s 2008 Presidential Nomination.  Last month, she left the Democratic Party in the wake of its failure to end the War in Iraq and the many and sundry defeats it has sustained since taking back power on Capitol Hill this past January.

McKinney, defeated for re-election last fall by a handkerchief head uncle tom, has been courted steadily since then to take up the Green banner and continue her progressive fight against the imperialistic Bush war machine.   An announcement is expected shortly about her future intentions.

Ron Dellums sells out

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Hat Tip: Scott Lindlaw, Associated Press 

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the endorsement Monday of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, a widely admired black leader who had anguished over whether to back Sen. Barack Obama, her leading Democratic presidential rival.

The endorsement came as Clinton and Dellums toured a vocational classroom at Laney College in Oakland, where Clinton announced that Dellums will head her campaign’s Urban Policy Committee.

The Clinton campaign spent months assiduously courting Dellums, a former U.S. Marine who served 27 years in Congress and once headed the powerful House Armed Services Committee. Dellums told associates he was excited by the energy of Obama’s campaign, but he withheld his endorsement longer than many other black leaders.

But Clinton’s willingness to embrace his recommendations on how to improve urban America, and her credentials on foreign and military affairs, won Dellums over.

“Oakland alone lacks the resources to enact this great vision of Oakland as a model city,” Dellums told hundreds of students. “We needed strong leadership at the federal level, we needed partners at the federal level, we needed a federal urban agenda.”

Clinton “has stepped forward to fashion a coherent, cogent, value-oriented, principled agenda for this country that she calls ‘leave no city behind.’ Isn’t that incredible?” Dellums said.

Clinton promised: “Ron, I want you to know, that come January 2009, you will have a partner in the White House.” She pledged as president to put more police officers on the streets, battle crime and enact sweeping health care reform.

Dellums and Clinton also have long-standing political ties. Dellums took over chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee when former President Bill Clinton chose Les Aspin to be his Defense secretary. As president, Bill Clinton visited California often and helped deliver government aid for such projects as expansion of the Port of Oakland.

Today, several veterans of Bill Clinton’s White House work for Dellums in the mayor’s office, including chief of staff David Chai.

Mrs. Clinton and Dellums met privately on the sidelines of the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering in Los Angeles in June, and discussed how to address crime and violence in inner cities, aides to Dellums said.

They also talked about Dellums’ work leading a group that last year examined the impact of U.S. policies on men of black, Hispanic, Asian and American Indian descent.

The Dellums Commission, as it became known, found that flawed government policies and negative stereotyping of minority men have limited their economic opportunities.

The study found the news and entertainment media overrepresent minorities as criminals and whites as victims and law enforcers. And federal laws such as the No Child Left Behind Act have hurt minorities by driving good teachers from high-poverty schools to better-funded ones where whites are more highly represented, the report contended.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, drew upon Dellums’ findings as she crafted her own urban policy plan, her campaign said.

As chairman of the Urban Policy Committee, Dellums will advise Clinton “on issues critical to America’s cities,” the campaign said, including crime, high dropout rates, scarce well-paid jobs and lack of health care.

Clinton, Obama and the other candidates in the Democratic presidential field have long dueled for support and dollars among blacks, one of the party’s key voter blocs. Independent polls in California and nationwide suggest the black vote is divided, largely between Clinton and Obama.

I have admired this brotha for years and this really chaps my hide.  Watching his speeches on C-SPAN was one of the highlights of my teenage years because they were always memorable.

Obama snags Oprah and Hillary courts Magic

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Hat Tip: by Michael R. Blood, Associated Press

Hillary Rodham Clinton pursued votes Friday in the city’s historical black heartland with basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson at her side. Less than a week ago, her rival Barack Obama banked $3 million at a fundraiser at Oprah Winfrey’s seaside estate.

For the two leading Democratic presidential contenders, the dueling events just six days apart highlighted the stiff competition for support and dollars within one of the party’s key voter groups — blacks.

Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers star whose sprawling business interests range from movie theaters to health clubs, was also holding a fundraiser for Clinton at his Beverly Hills home Friday night. It was expected to be considerably smaller than the lavish event staged by Winfrey for Obama, an Illinois senator, on Sept. 8.

Johnson’s fundraiser was co-hosted by music industry heavyweights Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy and Clarence Avant, and scheduled guests included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Guests at the Obama event included Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker and Chris Rock.

The divided loyalties among blacks show “the community just isn’t going to go lockstep behind any candidate, even a black one,” said University of California, Los Angeles, political scientist Franklin D. Gilliam Jr.

When it comes to competing celebrity endorsements, “I don’t know if anybody stands equal with Oprah,” Gilliam said. But Clinton, a New York senator, is not conceding the black vote to Obama and “she can compete for it in a legitimate way.”

On Thursday, the California Legislature’s black caucus endorsed Obama — but one of its eight members is backing Clinton. And independent polls in California suggest the black vote is divided, largely between Clinton and Obama.

Obama, whose late father was Kenyan, gives blacks a chance to put one of their own in the White House for the first time. But Clinton benefits from the strong relationship her husband, former President Bill Clinton, maintained with blacks for years.

“People in the black community love Bill Clinton; she’s seen as comfortable in the community,” Gilliam said. And “there’s concern about Obama being electable, period, because he’s black.”

The rivalry between Obama and Clinton also showcases the clout of black political influence and money.

Obama has predicted that black voter turnout could swell by at least 30 percent if he wins the presidential nomination, giving Democrats victory in Southern states that have been voting Republican for decades.

Asked last month why she would be a better candidate for blacks when Obama was in the race, she cited her years of public service and advocacy, and described herself as the more experienced candidate.

“My attitude is, I don’t deserve anyone’s vote. I have to earn everyone’s vote,” Clinton said.

At an event earlier Friday at a school in a heavily minority neighborhood near the Watts section, Clinton shared a stage with Johnson, Villaraigosa and other local leaders. She told a largely minority crowd including many students and supporters that she would bring a new style of leadership to Washington to take on issues like health care, education and ending the Iraq war.

“When I’m president, there will not be any invisible Americans,” she said.

Several people in the audience said they were comfortable with Clinton, in large part because of her long record in the public eye and efforts in her husband’s administration.

John Bruce, 45, a Democrat from Los Angeles who works in security, said the black community is looking for leaders and Obama “seems to be heading in the right direction.” Bruce, who is black, said race was not an issue in picking a candidate.

He said he remains undecided on 2008 but added, “I’m an all-Clinton Democrat.”

Black community activist “Sweet Alice” Harris, who is backing Clinton, said she worked closely with her during her days in the Clinton White House.

What about Obama?

“I don’t know him, but I know her,” Harris said.

Earlier in the day, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, held a private fundraiser for Clinton at a Mexican restaurant in Lynwood, a Los Angeles suburb.

Oprah Obama Fundraiser update

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Hat Tip: Lynn Sweet Blog, Chicago Sun Times 

MONTECITO, CALIF. — Oprah Winfrey opened the high iron gates of her highly guarded estate here Saturday to raise more than $3 million for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), his biggest single-day haul ever, in a fund-raising spectacle rarely seen in U.S. politics.

“I haven’t been actively engaged before because there hasn’t been anything to be actively engaged in. But I am engaged now to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States,” a source said Winfrey told the crowd just before the concert, starring Stevie Wonder.

Introducing Obama, Winfrey said that “nobody can stand in the way of destiny.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias as the Great Gatsby party scene unfolded before him on Winfrey’s meadow under a gorgeous sky.

Real celebrities mingled with Obama’s best donors and bundlers rewarded for their fund-raising efforts with a star-studded afternoon. Among those present at the event featuring the two most famous Chicagoans in the world: actors Lou Gossett Jr.; Cicely Tyson; Forest Whitaker; Ellen Pompeo; Sidney Poitier; Linda Evans; Tyler Perry; Chris Rock; Hill Harper (who attended Harvard Law with Obama); music producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds; Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, football quarterback Rodney Peete; Winfrey beau Stedman Graham; radio personality Tom Joyner; sports legends Ernie Banks, Bill Russell and Dave Winfield; tennis great Jimmy Connors, and model Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber.

There was a contingent from Obama’s Chicago-based kitchen cabinet, including Habitat honcho Valerie Jarrett and John Rogers, the Illinois finance co-chair.

The most important VIPs got to drive right up to the mansion, with most of the estimated 1,500 attendees who either gave or raised $2,300 shuttled by bus to Winfrey’s from the Earl Warren Showgrounds eight miles away in Santa Barbara.

At 3 p.m., there was Oprah/Obama gridlock on the Highway 101 Las Positas off-ramp leading to the staging area. Two women wearing leis waiting in the traffic jam said they flew in from Hawaii for the event. Judge Greg Mathis, who presides over the “Judge Mathis” show taped in Chicago, was in line, idling in his convertible Mercedes SL500.

Security was tight. The event was closed to the press. At the showgrounds, people dressed out of the pages of Vogue and GQ, despite the admonition to wear “garden attire,” were delivered in limos and sharp cars. Everyone had to give up cameras as they went through security. A reporter trying to interview people on the showgrounds was threatened with arrest.

Inside the fund-raiser, there were separate levels of access, depending on how much money people were raising for Obama, with the most prolific bundlers staying for a dinner.

Food stations offered mini-burgers, corn-on-the-cob on sticks, guacamole and chips; lemonade and vodka; red or white wine, and a full bar.

The Obama campaign’s regional professional fund-raisers brought their best contributors, with the high-rollers bunking at the spectacular Fess Parker resort in Santa Barbara.

Making the entire experience pleasurable for Obama’s best donors; Oprah, Obama and wife Michelle were posing for individual pictures, according to a person at the party.

As the evening wore down a stream of tired-looking but exceedingly well-dressed people, some carrying green souvenir blankets, poured past the wooden doors of Winfrey’s yard, leaving the home she calls “the Promised Land” to board buses to take them back to reality.