Jackson to Dems: Play Nice

Roger Simon, The Politico, February 21, 2008

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate, warned Wednesday that Democrats “could hurt themselves substantially, perhaps irreparably, in November” if fallout from the clash between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is not addressed quickly.

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“First, we must not allow people to exacerbate black-Hispanic tensions,” Jackson said in a lengthy phone interview from New York. “I think the differences there are exaggerated. You just can’t characterize things as Hispanics for Hillary and blacks for Obama.”

Black and Hispanic tensions, to whatever extent they exist, may be exacerbated, however, in the Texas primary on March 4, where, due to a complicated delegate-selection process, predominantly black districts have been awarded more delegates than predominantly Hispanic districts.

But Jackson said blacks and Hispanics are “all in one big tent” in America and their political relationship “is very substantial.”

Jackson’s second warning came over the use of superdelegates, those 795 or so Democratic big shots who are not elected in primaries or caucuses but get to cast a vote at the convention.

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Jackson said the final rift—which could prove the most difficult to heal—is genuine reconciliation between Obama and Clinton at the Democratic convention in Denver in August.

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“Racial justice is the key for the salvation of the nation, and that is fair game to discuss; it is a fair message,” Jackson said. “Blacks reaching out is not new; white receptivity is new. Barack is reaching out.”

“I just take some delight in the fact that we knocked down barriers, and now Barack and Hillary are open-field runners,” Jackson said. “A healthier, more secure, more mature America is emerging from race and gender shock.”

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