“Get me more white people, we need more white people,” is what organizers of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign said as they racially rearranged students for maximum photo diversity at event with Mrs. Obama at Carnegie Mellon.
An Asian girl was told, “We’re moving you, sorry. It’s going to look so pretty, though,” according to Andrew Peters, a reporter for Carnegie Mellon’s paper The Tartan.
The organizers’ remarks may be brash, but are truthful. Obama needs white voters in Pennsylvania.
As the April 22 Pennsylvania primary approaches Obama, who is half-black, is trying to make inroads into his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s white, blue-collar base in the Keystone State, where the most coveted demographic are the 3.86 million voting-age white men.
Pennsylvania has long been one of Clinton’s strongholds, but her lead is slipping according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. Quinnipiac now gives 50 percent of Democratic likely voters to Clinton and 44 percent to Obama.
Obama has shortened the gap by aggressively courting the blue-collar base. He’s spending a record-breaking $2.2 million per week to air four new television ads in Pennsylvania and went on what could be called a “blue-collar bus tour” last week.
He’s bowled gutter balls in Altoona, drank Yuengling and eaten hot dogs with Pennsylvania voters. And, he didn’t go to Memphis, Tennessee to commemorate the anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, like Clinton and GOP presidential candidate John McCain did.
This strategy is likely designed to recover from the controversy surrounding Obama’s relationship with his longtime friend and pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In March, news reports revealed Wright making anti-American and racist statements, Obama delivered a major speech on race relations in the United States and defended the man he once called his “spiritual adviser” on several occasions.
MSNBC election analyst Chuck Todd told Keith Olbermann on his show “The Countdown” that Obama’s performance with white voters in Pennsylvania would be a test to determine if Obama had survived the Wright controversy.
“We’ve seen the polling, and the polling seems like he has survived this, but I think there are some of these superdelegates that are about - that are probably one step away from doing this, and they want to see what the voters of Pennsylvania do. They want to see if Obama can hang tight. They want to see if he does, you know, as well with the white vote as he did in previous primaries. So, I do think that it is an issue with the superdelegates.”
Over the last month, the Clinton campaign has expressly used Obama’s friendship with Wright to cast doubt about his electability to party superdelegates who are expected to determine who will be the Democratic nominee, as neither Obama nor Clinton has secured enough delegates to win the nomination outright.
On Wednesday, Clinton supporter Lanny Davis made another pubic overture to play the “Wright card.” He published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that reprinted inflammatory quotes from Wright and called on Obama to respond to “unanswered questions” about his ties to Wright.