In a fourth quarter play to help Democratic candidates in the upcoming Nov. 2 election, President Barack Obama spoke with members of the Black press in hopes of sending a message to their readership. Although the message was shrouded under a call for Americans to vote, it was clear he wanted them to vote Democratic.
“Many economists believed we were on the brink of a second depression and middle class families across the nation and working families and those aspiring to middle class especially African-American families were in serious jeopardy. Frankly I hoped we were going to get some Republican help; we didn’t,” Obama said. “Twenty months later we have an economy that’s growing again. The key then is for us to be able to move forward to help middle class families and the only way I can do that is with some help on Capitol Hill.”
Despite negative campaigning against the Obama administration in favor of Tea Party and Republican candidates in the election, 88 percent of African-Americans approve of his performance, according to a September survey by the Pew Research Center. Therefore, harnessing the Black vote could be a key strategy for Democratic candidates currently trailing in the polls.
Recognizing this opportunity, Obama ran through a list of all his administration’s policies, backed by Democratic support in the Senate, that were accomplished during his first year and a half in office. At the top of the list was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that has been used as an example by Republican and Tea Party supporters of how Democrats have spun out of control on government spending.
“This is a tough political environment. If you take a poll asking people do you like new infrastructure spending, putting people back to work, they’ll say that’s a great idea. If you tell them is it a good idea to provide tax cuts to 95 percent of working families, they’ll say yeah, absolutely,” Obama said. “If you tell them we did all of that in the stimulus, they say we don’t like the American Recovery Reinvestment Act. There’s a disconnect.”
Among his critic’s concerns is the high unemployment rate. Obama said the nation has seen nine months of consecutive private sector job growth.
“The successful branding of those things by Republicans has been just as spending and irresponsibility by Washington,” Obama said. “What I say to your readers is look at what Democrats did over the past two years. They were things that were good on behalf of the African-American community and don’t worry so much about a bunch of TV ads.”
Obama also touched on other legislative victories such as health care reform, education reform including improvements to student loans, and aid for small businesses. Still he said the nation had a long way to go and job recovery would remain his top priority.
“Whatever program we do, we tie it in to a job component,” Obama said. “I have a great deal of confidence that if there is a Democrat here in Washington that there will be folks I can work with to continue making progress for small businesses, making sure there are programs in place for blighted neighborhoods, making sure we are able to continue focusing on a new infrastructure program to put people to work.”