Obama to Blacks: Vote Like I’m on the Ballot

Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2010

Appearing on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s national radio show, Keeping It Real, Mr. Obama outlined a record on health care and other measures that he said helped minority and low-income communities.

“So even though your name isn’t on the ballot, this is about your agenda and about the progress we’ve seen you begin to make over the past 20-odd months?” asked Mr. Sharpton.

“Absolutely,” Mr. Obama said.

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“If we don’t have strong leaders who are supportive of this agenda, who are supportive of moving the country forward, and instead we have folks who want to move backwards to the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place, then it’s going to be very difficult for me to keep making progress and do what folks want to see me do over the next two years,” he said.

Democrats have been trying to mobilize black voters, who turned out in big numbers for Mr. Obama in 2008. But like other core party voters, they have been less excited this year. The president’s approval ratings have dropped considerably but remain consistently high among African-Americans. In recent months, the White House has turned to Mr. Sharpton as a key surrogate to push back against some black critics who have complained that the country’s first black president was not doing enough to help his fellow blacks.

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Mr. Sharpton and other black leaders will hold a conference call tonight with the president and supporters to reiterate the importance of voter turnout.

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