Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Tavis Smiley Work to Repair their Images

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the only Presidential candidate from either party to attend The State of the Black Union Conference held by Tavis Smiley of PBS, worked hard to use the appearance as a chance to regain lost black voters. Critics have charged that Clinton attended the conference because she is so far out of the presidential race that she could spare the time.

During the conference, event organizer Tavis Smiley gave Mrs. Clinton a chance to regain affinity with black voters. She acknowledged that there were "painful moments" during the race, and that she regrets them.

Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, was once so popular with black voters that he'd been called "The First Black President". The title was offensive to some people of color, but many embraced the idea. However, during the election, Former President Clinton made several mistakes, such as presuming that Barack Obama won in South Carolina because both he and many of the voters were black.

Since that day, Mrs. Clinton has lost most of her primaries by a huge margin, and Obama has regularly exceeded her in black votes by 40 or 50%. The State of the Black Union, the venue in which Clinton appeared, but Obama did not, was her chance to appeal directly to African-Americans to regain their support.

Last week, Black America was in an uproar over Tavis Smiley's public attacks on Senator Barack Obama for not attending The State of the Black Union event. Obama offered to send his wife, Michelle, but she was rebuffed. While Smiley argued that no spouse of a Presidential candidate would be acceptable, many were concerned about the fact that many of the panelists invited were also not running for President.

Since that time, both Smiley and Clinton has seen a tremendous slide in their popularity in the black community.

Hillary Clinton claimed that her husband made racial reconciliation part of his public life. However, she stopped short of fully explaining why he refused to apologize for slavery.

"Most of my African-American friends and advisors don't believe that we should get into what was essentially a press story about whether there should be an apology for slavery in America," Bill Clinton stated in a magazine in 1998. "They think that that's what the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendment was; they think that's what the civil rights legislation was, and they think we need to be looking toward the future."

To this day, neither of the Clintons have backed legislation to publicly apologize for slavery.

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