Obama snags Oprah and Hillary courts Magic



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.

5 thoughts on “Obama snags Oprah and Hillary courts Magic

  1. star1

    This is good news for the Black Community. We are able to support (money) more than one candidate. We also have the money to part of the “TEAM”

  2. Denise

    I agree, Star1. A little competition never hurt anybody.

    And in a very good way, we’re watching its impact in this battle for the ’08 black vote 🙂

  3. Lucia Akech

    I have difficulties with what I call disunity within the black race everywhere. We are always eager in the bringing people to power(the king makers of the world) with our votes without getting rewarded for that effort. During these king making campaigns, the most fortunate black elites are willing to descend on those whose views they do not agree with like the wolf on the fold.

    Other communities who speak with one voice always succeed in getting the pieces of the pie from the candidates they support.

    We all know access to governments contractual services is that the piece of pie in question.
    Most of the black people with voices do not seem to understand that they must have a united front to address the despair within the struggling black community. We need to say, in no uncertain term, that our votes means our issues must be addressed. This won’t happen if whenever an influential black person is against something, it is always something that is meant to hurt another black person.

    Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we cannot criticize one another. All I am saying is, we must not criticize one another on behalf of someone who is afraid to do so lest he/she will be called racist!!
    Hillary and Bill Clinton are very busy dividing the Africa American community despite the fact that they know most blacks are econmically disadvantaged. The subprime lending and the student loan scandals have left most hardworking black young people and students with debts that have made the American dream impossible and this is not a laughing matter. Most of the corporations responsible for this are pouring a lot of money in Hillary’s campaing!!!!

  4. Is this good news? Seems to me like these candidates haven’t said much if anything about what they will actually do about black unemployment, a racist criminal justice system and other serious issues facing communities of color across the country.

    What does it matter if they hang out with black celebrities if they don’t do anything for everyday working people?????

    And when can we stop pretending Clinton was good for black people in the 90s. This is a long exposed lie.
    It was Clinton the backed NAFTA which sent black jobs away and boosted unemployment.
    It was Clinton that signed the you-have-the-right-to-starve welfare reform that has ghettos screaming across the country.
    It was Clinton that signed the anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act setting the stage for Bush’s Patriot Act insanity.

    Come on people. These candidates need to do something for us besides show up with our favorite comedians, ball players and movie stars. Let’s start having some intelligent discussions. This is getting a li’l out of hand!!!!

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