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The Obama Campaign's Strategic Blunder – They Made it Personal

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Message Angie Pratt

When the Obama campaign made its claim of racism against Hillary after theNew Hampshire primary they made a booboo.  A big one.  Prior to that Clinton's supporters were open to entertaining a vote for Obama.  Maybe he'd be OK.

The evening of Hillary's win in New Hampshire the claim came out that Hillary had somehow cheated.  Somehow she had gotten white folks to vote for her because she was white and Obama was black.  That claim was used to explain away Obama's defeat and set the stage for getting out the black vote in South Carolina.

The media jumped on it.  It explained how they could have been so wrong.  Chris Mathews and Keith Olbermann actually had to tone down their anti-Hillary rhetoric for a week or so.  So this lie got repeated over and over again.
The result was the black community united behind Obama in South Carolina.  Instead of getting at least 40% to 50% of the black vote that she probably would have gotten, Hillary got only 22%.

It worked.  Obama had a winning strategy.  If he could consistently get 80% to 90% of the black vote he'd be set.
Well … if it worked once … try it again.  So the Obama camp called the Clintons racists again and again and again – at every opportunity. 

The national media loved it.  It fit with the stereotype that many wanted to tag Hillary with anyway – that's she'd do anything to win – including playing the race card.  What black would vote for her if she'd stoop so low.  Just goes to show that white folks can't be trusted.

All Hillary could say was “no I didn't.”  As the Obama campaign knew/knows full well, disproving the negative is virtually impossible. 

The problem with this approach and the strategic blunder for the Obama Campaign is that in the process of calling the Clintons racists they were also calling Hillary Clinton's supporters racists too.  They made it personal.

Emotions boiled over.  Blacks were mad because Obama was victimized by “mean ole Clinton.”  Clinton's supporters were mad because they were being called racists too – most of whom had spent their lives trying to make themselves and this country colorblind.

Then the Rev. Wright revelation came out.  In their tone deafness, Obama supporters tried to brush the issue aside by saying Rev. Wright was ACTUALLY typical – he wasn't an extreme example of black preachers. 

"You mean it isn't just a few blacks who think that way?" asked whites to themselves and their friends.  In so doing, Obama supporters inadvertently confirmed what had been whispered about in the white community for a long time – blacks are racists too.

Then the Obama folks made one more mistake.  They went ahead and directly personalized the issue.  In so many words they said, “if you can't understand, appreciate the context of Rev. Wright i.e., black liberation theology, then YOU (not just Hillary) are a racist.”

The response to that verbalized accusation by non-Obama supporters is/was perfectly predictable – “if you're going to call me one, I'm going to call you one.”

Nana nana boo boo!

Now many Hillary's supporters aren't going to vote for Obama if he wins the nomination.  Remember those fabled moderates and independents that Obama said he'd be able to win?  They aren't going to vote for him either.  They got lumped together with the Hillary supporters and labeled racists too.

So much for being a uniter.

The Obama Campaign should have never played the race card.  The consequences will reverberate well past the election.

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