Friday, February 29, 2008

Civil Rights Icon Defects to Obama

Senator Hillary Clinton's White House hopes suffered another body blow as civil rights hero and Democratic elder John Lewis defected to her surging rival Senator Barack Obama. "Something is happening in America," said Lewis, who walked in the iconic footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr., and said he now sensed a comparable groundswell of historic change sweeping the country. The timing of his switch was especially annoying for Senator Clinton, just days before Texas and Ohio hold March 4 nominating contests which her campaign admits she must win to keep her White House dreams alive. Congressman Lewis, who risked his life in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said there was a spirit in the hearts and minds of Americans he had not seen since the 1968 presidential pursuit of assassinated Democrat Robert Kennedy. "I want to be on the side of the people, on the side of the spirit of history," he said. Lewis, 68, was the latest superdelegate, (Democratic party VIPs and elected officials who can vote how they like at the party convention) to choose Senator Obama, further weakening Senator Clinton's hopes. Obama, on the day when he welcomed the one millionth donor to his campaign, said he was honored to have the backing of an "American hero and a giant of the civil rights movement." Clinton said Lewis had "been my friend and he will always be my friend." Congressman Lewis is the latest in a series of superdelegates that have switched support to Senator Obama in the last week and is attracting more high-profile party endorsements by the day.

Senator Obama, meanwhile, has turned his attention toward probable Republican nominee John McCain. In a possible preview of the general election match-up, both candidates sparred over the Iraq war in the news media. "Where is the audacity of hope when it comes to backing the success of our troops all the way to victory in Iraq?" Senator McCain said in a statement issued after Obama and Clinton traded blows at a debate late Tuesday. Obama, who opposed the Iraq war and says he will end it in 2009 if elected president, hit back hard at McCain while campaigning in Ohio. "John McCain may like to say that he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he's done is follow George Bu$h into a misguided war in Iraq that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars."

Close Up View of Senator Obama

My 19 year old daughter, Jessica, and I went to the Barack Obama rally in Duncanville, Texas this past Wednesday. The rally started at 4:45 with the doors opening at 2:45. We live at the northern most end of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Duncanville is at the southern most end, a distance of 40 or so miles. We arrived there at 2:40 and the parking lot was full. We ended up parking about three blocks away. The line to get in was three wide and more than two football fields long and was steadily growing. We walked past old and young alike. There were two women with about 15 pre-schoolers, teenagers, young adults, and seniors who looked to be in their 70s. The rally was at Duncanville High School Arena. (Yes, arena. High schools are huge in Texas). After about an hour in the slow moving line and within sight of the metal detectors (yes, metal detectors; it is a man who might become our next president), the building was full and we had to go inside the football stadium that they had set up for overflow (speakers but no view). We were sitting in the first row for about 20 minutes when a secret serviceman told us if we wanted to get a better look that we could move down to the field where they had a barricade set up and that Senator Obama might come over there for a few minutes after the rally.

So Jessica and I went over and stood next to the barricade. Then one of the senator’s staff members came out to look at the crowd and a few minutes later they set up a small platform and microphone, which meant he was coming out there. When they brought the dogs out to sniff the surrounding area there was no doubt. About 20 minutes later his motorcade drove up and the crowd went wild shouting Obama, Obama, Obama. They drove his SUV right next to the doorway and all the news media and cameramen lined up at the door. We figured we would get a glimpse of him going inside (we were about 40-50 yards away), and would have to wait for about a hour until the rally was over. Then about eight secret servicemen and about 15 policemen and all the media started to move in our direction and we knew he was coming over and the crowd got even louder. Then Senator Obama, surrounded by four secret servicemen came out waving. He said with this huge crowd and this nice weather he thought he would come out here first. He spoke for about five minutes, and then started back toward the doors.

Then he said something to the secret servicemen and walked over toward us. The crowd surged and the secret servicemen surrounded him and yelled to the crowd not to push. The next thing I knew was that my daughter and I were shaking hands with the future president of the United States. I know he has to be tired from all the traveling from place to place, but he has the energy and excitement in his eyes.

The funniest thing we saw was when we were leaving and we saw this one woman on the corner with a Hillary sign in a sea of Obama supporters.

Black Lawmakers Switch from Clinton Support

In a sign that the will of the voters carry more weight than owing favors to the Clintons, Black lawmakers are beginning to rethink their support for Senator Hillary Clinton. In another sign of trouble for Hillary Clinton, one of the former first lady's congressional Black supporters intends to vote for Senator Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, and a second, better known lawmaker is openly discussing a possible switch. Congressman David Scott's defection and Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis' remarks highlight one of the challenges confronting Clinton in recent days. "You've got to represent the wishes of your constituency," Scott said in an interview Wednesday in the Capitol. "My proper position would be to vote the wishes of my constituents." The congressman represents a district in Georgia that gave more than 80 percent of its vote to Senator Obama in the February 5 Georgia primary. These lawmakers are now beginning to realize that they have to run for office again and voters will remember where they stood in the next elections.

Congressman Lewis, whose Atlanta-area district voted 3-to-1 for Senator Obama, said he is not ready to abandon his backing for the former first lady. But several associates, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing private conversations, said the nationally known civil rights figure has become increasingly torn about his early endorsement of Senator Clinton. In an interview, Lewis likened Obama to Robert F. Kennedy in his ability to generate campaign excitement, and left open the possibility he might swing behind the Illinois senator. "It could happen. There's no question about it. It could happen with a lot of people ... we can count and we see the clock," he said. What he can see is his career as a politician disappearing if he doesn’t follow the will of the people. If he needs a little more insight, just ask the Republican lawmakers who lost elections by following President Bu$h last year.

Obama's recent string of 11 primary and caucus wins coincides with an evident shift in momentum in the contest for support from party officials who will attend the convention. The Senator Clinton still holds a sizable lead among the roughly 800 so-called superdelegates, which are chosen outside the primary and caucus system. But Christine Samuels, until this week a Clinton superdelegate from New Jersey, said during the day she is now supporting Senator Obama. Two other superdelegates, Sophie Masloff of Pennsylvania and Nancy Larson of Minnesota, are uncommitted, having dropped their earlier endorsements of Senator Clinton. On Wednesday, David Wilhelm, a longtime ally of the Clintons who had been neutral in the presidential race, endorsed Obama. The comments by Scott and Lewis reflect pressure on Clinton's Black supporters, particularly elected officials by voters, not to stand in the way of what is plainly the best chance in history to have a Black president. "Nobody could see this" in advance, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking Black in Congress, said of Obama's emergence. He is officially neutral in the race, but expressed his irritation earlier in the year with remarks that Clinton and her husband the former president had made about civil rights history. Neutral, this is why we can’t get anything done in congress. When you win a election you are a representative of the people. And the people of South Carolina have clearly spoken.

One Black supporter of Clinton, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, said he remains committed to her. "There's nothing going on right now that would cause me to" change, he said. IS THE MAN BLIND AND DEAF? He said any suggestion that elected leaders should follow their voters "raises the age old political question. Are we elected to monitor where our constituents are ... or are we to use our best judgment to do what's in the best interests of our constituents." No man, you are an ELECTED official; elected to represent the people who voted for you. In an interview, Cleaver offered a glimpse of private conversations. He said Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois had recently asked him "if it comes down to the last day and you're the only superdelegate? ... Do you want to go down in history as the one to prevent a Black from winning the White House? "I told him I'd think about it," Cleaver concluded. Well think about this Mr. congressman, do you like that seat in congress? Congressman Jackson, an Obama supporter, confirmed the conversation, and said the dilemma may pose a CAREER RISK for some Black politicians. "Many of these guys have offered their support to Mrs. Clinton, but Obama has won their districts. So you wake up without the carpet under your feet. You might find some young primary challenger placing you in a difficult position" in the future, he added.

Senators Obama and Clinton are in a competitive race for convention delegates. Overall, he has 1,276 in The Associated Press count, and she has 1,220. It takes 2,025 to clinch the nomination. But the overall totals show two distinct trends. Obama has won 1,112 delegates in primaries and caucuses, and Clinton has won 979 in the same contests in the AP count. The former first lady leads in the superdelegate chase, 241-164. "My strong belief is that if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates, and the most voters in the country, then it would be problematic for political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters," Senator Obama said recently. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said she hopes one or the other of the rivals emerges as the clear winner through the primaries and caucuses. "I don't think it was ever intended that superdelegates would overturn the verdict, the decision of the American people," she said.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinton Hopes to Slow Obama at Debate

With slumping poll numbers, Senator Hillary Clinton has a last chance in a one-on-one debate tonight to slow Senator Barack Obama's roaring momentum before two pivotal nominating clashes next week. The former front-runner, her hopes hanging by a thread ahead of must-win contests in Ohio and Texas on March 4, hopes to halt an Obama surge which has seen the Illinois senator snap up 11 straight electoral victories. The streak has seen Clinton's campaign contemplating the possibility of defeat.

Senator Obama, carving out wide leads in national Democratic polls, landed another morale-sapping blow to the Clinton campaign, capturing the endorsement of former party White House hopeful Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd said either Clinton or Obama would make a good commander in chief, but said he believed the Illinois senator could be a unifying force. "He has drawn millions of voters into politics for the first time in their lives and shown us that we are united by so much more than that which divides us. More than ever, we need a President who will inspire us to take part in the political process and change our country's path," he said in a message to supporters. He denied that it was a nudge to Senator Clinton to give up.

Both candidates headed into the televised debate in Cleveland as new polls suggesting Clinton's support was collapsing and amid striking newspaper stories of internal conflict damaging her campaign. A CBS News/New York Times survey gave Obama a 54 percent to 38 percent lead among Democrats nationwide. A USA Today poll had him up 51 percent to 39 percent nationally among Democratic voters. There were fresh signs of Clinton's campaign woes, including an AP-Ipsos poll that charted significant gains for Obama among male voters and others two months into the primary season. In mid-January, Clinton held a seven-point lead among all men, a group she now loses by 25 points. The two were about even among college graduates six weeks ago, and Obama now holds a 20-point margin. The former first lady's most reliable base of support continues to be older voters, women, and lower-income workers.
Yesterday polls in Texas showed Senator Obama leading in Texas for the first time, and today there was more alarming news for Senator Clinton, as a Rasmussen Reports survey Tuesday showed Obama cut her lead among Ohio Democrats to just five points, as she led 48 percent to 43 percent. Last week, Obama had 40 percent, and the week before 38 percent. Clinton needs blowout wins in Ohio and Texas to erase Obama's lead in the delegate hunt. The RealClearPolitics website put Senator Obama in the driving seat with 1,374 delegates to Senator Clinton's 1,275. A total of 436 Democratic delegates are in play in next Tuesday's primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The debate takes place a day after a photograph emerged of Obama dressed in a wraparound robe and turban, presented to him by elders in Wajir, in northeastern Kenya, a reminder of his African heritage in a campaign where the issues of race and religion have always lurked in the background. The gossip and news Web site The Drudge Report posted the photograph Monday and said it was being circulated by "Clinton staffers." Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe accused the Clinton team of "shameful, offensive fear-mongering," but Clinton angrily denied that her aides had passed the photo on to the Drudge Report website. Obama said he expected the debate to be conducted in a "civil fashion" but knows Clinton may try to snare him with the same searing tone seen in her recent barrage of attacks on his presidential credentials.

Obama has won 11 straight primaries and caucuses, and even some of Clinton's supporters concede she must win in both Ohio and Texas next week to keep her candidacy alive.

A Difference of Campaigns in Ohio: Grassroots

In Ohio for Senator Hillary Clinton, home base – the place of comfort, the place where crowds are always friendly, is Kamm's Corners, a neighborhood on Cleveland's west side dominated by White firefighters, cops and factory workers. One of Clinton's strongest supporters here, Pat Dorr, became active in the Clinton campaign last week, after a national campaign staffer asked her to make phone calls. "When I first came in, there was nobody here," says Dorr, 78, who has helped so many campaigns over the years that she's lost count. "This whole week, this office was basically empty."

Home base for Senator Barack Obama lies on the opposite side of town, in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood, home to mostly working-class Black families. One of Obama's first volunteers here was Antoinette McCall, a substitute high school teacher who has never worked a campaign before in her life. McCall became active 11 months ago, donating what little money she could to Obama's campaign. She used Obama's website to recruit volunteers and run a phone bank from her living room. She convinced friends who own beauty salons to organize their customers, and created a database of hundreds of Obama supporters. "It's like we had this whole movement built up before the campaign staff even got here," says McCall, 36. In a few months, McCall, a political novice, has built an organization rivaling that of some state senators who form the backbone of Clinton's establishment support. "By the time they finally opened the office," she says, "this place was packed."

Senator Obama supporters like McCall are the key to his 11 straight victories. While this blue-collar state has been viewed as part of Clinton's firewall strategy for stopping Obama's momentum, the truth is that even though she is still leading in polls in Ohio, her campaign is playing catch-up when it comes to the all-important job of grassroots organizing. "I'm 52, I've been around for a while, and Obama's is the most spontaneous, energetic political operation that I've ever seen," said Keith Wilkowski, a lawyer and former Democratic Party chair in Toledo. That level of energy was apparent at a Monday rally of several thousand people in Cincinnati. Obama opened his remarks by telling the crowd that early voting is already underway in Ohio and urged them to go vote immediately after the rally ended. He even told them the location where they could go cast their ballots. It showed both the intensity of the fight for votes going on daily as well as the benefits of having a candidate who used to be a community organizer and has run a voter registration drive.

Senator Clinton enjoys endorsements from Ohio's popular governor and many Democratic officeholders. If she retains her shrinking lead in the polls, it will mean that a traditional, top-down campaign rooted in the party establishment still can win in the clutch. But if Senator Obama scores an upset, it could prove that a new breed of grassroots campaign - internet-based, built from the ground up by newcomers like Antoinette McCall - is finally ready for prime time. "Clinton doesn't have as many volunteers as Obama right now," says Steve Fought, a longtime grassroots organizer for the Ohio Democratic Party who works as an aide to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptor of Toledo. "But she has deep party support, and I suppose they'll get their machine cranked up." But it could be getting a bit late for that.

All winter, the heart of Hillary Clinton's campaign in central Ohio was Jamie Dixey's apartment in the affluent Columbus suburb of New Albany. She started by inviting nine friends over to listen in on a national conference call with Clinton. She organized two monthly meetings, both of which attracted about 10 people. "It was very hard to get people interested because it was so early," Dixey says. In the world of traditional Democratic Party campaigns, this was enough to qualify Dixey as a star volunteer. She won an invitation to Governor Ted Strickland's rally on Jan. 19 formally kicking off Clinton's grassroots campaign in Ohio. Valli Frausto, Dixey's counterpart on the Obama campaign, signed up to volunteer for Obama on February 11, 2007, the day after he announced his candidacy. Immediately she found the social networking section of Obama's website,, which campaign insiders affectionately call "MyBO." Frausto posted a personal profile and met other supporters online. Within six months, her group of three women had grown to over 200 members.

After Super Tuesday, as national staff for both campaigns descended on Ohio, Senator Obama's state leaders began flexing the power of MyBO and the grassroots network it spawned. Across the state, Obama's 300 web-based groups started canvassing neighborhoods three days to a week before Senator Clinton's campaign. At the end of a regular e-mail to Democratic Party activists, the Clinton campaign attached a plea last week begging volunteers to bring food to staff members working at the campaign headquarters. When Frausto read the message, she chuckled. Obama's campaign already had a volunteer whose only job is to coordinate the dozens of people who pledged to cook lunch and dinner for Obama's 60 staff members in Columbus every day through March 4.

Senator Obama's surging grassroots success has stolen Clinton's establishment base right out from under her. Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell came out early for Clinton, winning a trip to the national convention to vote for her. Then Conwell's constituents sat him down for a little chat. "I met with my residents and tried to get them to go with Hillary," Conwell says. "Not one of them would move. All of my volunteers, all my block club presidents, every last one of them was going for Barack." Conwell was forced to relinquish his seat at the convention. He spent last Saturday canvassing his ward for Obama. "Now that I've been with both campaigns, I see that Obama's has a lot more volunteers, and they're all grassroots people from the neighborhood," Conwell says. "I didn't think this movement would grow. I was wrong. It's strong." In other words, Mr. Conwell is finding out just what other superdelegates are beginning to realize; if he plans of remaining a city councilman, he had better get on the voters bandwagon.

Bill Clinton Campaign Chief Endorses Obama

The man who served as national manager of former President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign recently endorsed Senator Barack Obama. In a recent conference call Senator Obama announced the endorsement by David Wilhelm, who later became chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Wilhelm told reporters that Obama can build a coalition of Democrats, independents and Republicans needed to win the general election. Wilhelm is a superdelegate who was previously uncommitted in the race. His endorsement helps Obama in the race for delegates, in which he pulled ahead after sweeps of primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Senator Clinton remains considerably ahead in superdelegates, which are party officials, elected officials and others who can vote however they choose at the nominating convention. But the list of superdelegates endorsing Senator Obama grows daily as voters begin to pressure their elected officials to make their choice for Obama or face voter backlashes when they run for reelection. If the race for pledged delegates based on outcomes in caucuses and primaries across the country remains tight, superdelegates could decide the nomination. Senator Obama leads the delegate race and Senator Clinton must win the upcoming Texas and Ohio primaries to remain in the running. Former President Clinton recently said that she must win in Texas or…

Mayweather to Try Wrestling

After testing his moves of “Dancing With the Stars,” welterweight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is preparing to drop the gloves and do some wrestling. A $20 million payday awaits the man many consider the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The undefeated World Boxing Council welterweight champion is scheduled to take on Big Show as part of WWE’s “WrestleMania XXIV” at Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida on March 30.

“It’s entertainment” Mayweather said Monday after a chaotic news conference at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The boxer nicknamed “Money” clearly likes the way WWE does business. “Wrestling takes care of business right on the spot,” Mayweather said. “Whatever they say they’re going to do, they do it right on the spot. There’s no waiting three, four, five months. Quick results, quick money. Quick big money, too.” His manager Leonard Ellerbee and WWE executive Shane McMahon confirmed Mayweather’s eight-figure payday for the outdoor match to be shown on live on pay-per-view.

Mayweather had a “Pacman” Jones flashback when he whipped out a thick wad of cash and tossed $100, $50 and $20 bills into the crowd causing a mad scramble, with a light pole nearly getting knocked over and two small children caught in the chaos. I know the WWE is famous for marketing ploys but making it rain cash can cause people to literally lose their minds if we can remember what happened last year in Las Vegas when “Pacman” made it rain causing a riot, which included a shooting incident.

At 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, Mayweather gives up big numbers to the bald Big Show, who stands 7-feet and weighs 430. “I weigh three times as much as he does,” Big Show crowed. “It’s not fair, but I’m a businessman and I see an opportunity for business.” Mayweather hopped onto a chair and exchanged glares with Big Show while some WWE regulars looked on, witnessing a newcomer who clearly understands the antics of the wrestling business.

The wrestling gig is another part of Ellerbee’s carefully crafted plan to expand Mayweather’s fan base. He scoffed that hard-core boxing fans won’t take Mayweather seriously after his WWE antics. That’s why Ellerbee snagged Mayweather a spot on ABC’s reality show “Dancing With the Stars.” “It crossed him over and took him into the households of many middle-aged Middle Americans and turned him into a mainstream superstar,” Ellerbee said. “Now when Floyd goes into the grocery store, the first thing 65-year-old ladies say is, `You’re Floyd from `Dancing With the Stars.”’

“I’m outside the box,” Mayweather said, “Floyd Mayweather is not just a fighter, he’s an entertainer.” Mayweather plans to train with WWE Latino star Ray Mysterio, who wears a mask on his face. But he hasn’t forgotten his night job. He is thinking about a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya

Monday, February 25, 2008

BET Honors

The first annual celebration of the BET Honors, which aired this passed Friday night, was truly a celebration. The event was hosted by Cedric “The Entertainer, and included an all star line-up including such notables as Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Gladys Knight, Wyclef Jean, Jill Scott, Brian McKnight, Ne-Yo, Raheem DeVaughn, Blair Underwood, Danny Glover, Kerry Washington, Idris Elba, Hill Harper, Vivica A. Fox and Kiesha Cole.

Friday’s broadcast showed the inaugural celebration of the BET Honors, which was held on January 12 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. The show recognized six honorees across a range of achievements. The honors went to Dr. Cornel West, (noted Princeton University professor at the Center for African American Studies), for education; Tyra Banks, (producer, reality-show host, talk-show host, model, actress), for media; Janice Bryant Howroyd, (the chairman, chief executive officer and founder of Act 1 employment services corporation that she started out of a storefront and now has 90 offices across the nation and $500 million in 2007 revenue), for entrepreneur; Alicia Keys (musician, actress AIDS/HIV activist), for entertainment; Richard Parsons (Chairman of the Board of Time Warner), corporate citizen; and The Honorable Maxine Waters (who is serving her ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives), for public service.

It was a wonderful event but while they were having fun inside, on January 12, the date of the actual taping, a crowd of a couple hundred protesters shouted from behind police barricades across 14th Street. A group called Enough Is Enough led the protest saying the show was an expensive fig leaf to mask the corporation’s sins of exploitation. Signs in the crowd read “I Am Not a Pimp” and “I Am Not a Gangster.” I wonder if “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder, who over the years has had his comic-strip characters ridicule BET for its programming content, most notable for its habit of profit-pushing thuggish rap videos. The protesters have to admit that BET has aired much more family oriented programming lately.

Each honoree received an introduction, then a video bio and then a musical tribute. Wyclef Jean pitched in a foot-stomping take on "She's a Bad Mama Jama." Brian McKnight crooned "One." Wonder came out and ripped up "As," dedicated to Keys. It had the horn section dancing, the ushers keeping time in the aisles and the crowd rocking. Debra Lee, BET's chairman and chief executive, pointed out that each recipient has also "given back to the community in a significant way."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Senator Obama Ends Four-day Texas Swing With Downtown Austin Party

Senator Barack Obama ended a four-day Texas campaign swing with an outdoor party in downtown Austin. He stood before a screaming and chanting Friday night crowd with the Capitol Building as a backdrop and the barricaded downtown streets as his stage. "I am here to report that my bet has paid off, my faith in the American people has been vindicated, because you have told me that you want something new, that you are ready for change, that you are ready to move in a new direction," Obama said. "Most of all, Austin, I was betting on you — the American people," he said, adding that his early career as a community organizer convinced him that change happens from the bottom up, not from the top down. He arrived to thunderous cheers from a two-blocks-deep crowd on Congress Avenue that fit easily in the three blocks reserved for supporters. Lines began forming a half-hour before the gates opened, extending for several blocks by the time the security scanners began running at 6 p.m. Austin fire officials' estimates of the crowd's numbers ranged from 8,000 to 15,000. President Bu$h must be fuming to see all this in his home state. With 228 delegates, Texas is the biggest prize left in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. So both candidates have been traveling throughout the state.

Before wrapping up his Lone Star State swing in Austin on Friday, Senator Obama made appearances in Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley, the base of Senator Clinton's support in Texas. Hispanics could make up 35 percent to 50 percent of the electorate in the Texas Democratic primary, analysts say. To chants of "Sí se puede" — the Spanish version of his "Yes we can" catchphrase — Obama introduced himself to the area's crucial Hispanic voters by recalling a telegram the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sent to César Chávez as he was organizing farm workers. "Our cause is the same," King wrote. "Because what Chávez and King and every other freedom fighter has understood is that there's a time, there's a moment in the life of every generation, when that spirit of hope has to come through," Obama told crowd in Edinburg. Earlier in the week he spoke at massive rallies in Houston and Dallas. Obama also told the crowd, without mentioning Clinton's name, that his opponent's emphasis on solutions over speeches — and her contention that he lacks experience — overlooks his career and his platform. "But you know, none of that stuff is going to become real unless we build a working majority for change," Obama said. "That's what we've been doing on this campaign ... So don't tell me about speeches and solutions, because those two things go hand-in-hand." Of her criticism that he's not battle-tested, Obama expressed disbelief. "Listen, I'm a Black man named Barack Obama running for president. You can't tell me I'm not tough," he said.

The Texas primary in on March 4, but early voting has been going on since February 19 and will close on February 29. And there are record breaking crowds at virtually all early voting locations. Some voting locations that had only 500 or so voters in 2004 are reporting numbers above 5000 in only five days. I went to cast my vote today thinking that they were exaggerating and found myself waiting in line for almost 30 minutes. It also was so refreshing to see so many young people in line. I was behind three young people that couldn’t have been older that 19. Even longtime Republicans say they are excited by a campaign that is breathing life into politics.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clinton - Obama Debate in Texas

Senator Hillary Clinton came into tonight debate needing a knock out to take back the momentum in the race for Democratic nomination for president. That knock out did not happen as they basically debated to a tie. Senator Clinton accused presidential rival Senator Obama of political plagiarism Thursday night, but drew boos from the debate audience when she ridiculed him as the candidate of "change you can Xerox." Senator Obama dismissed the charge as being out of hand, then turned the jeers to applause when he countered, "What we shouldn't be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up." The exchange marked an unusually pointed moment in an otherwise civil encounter just days before March 4 primaries in Texas and Ohio — contests that even some of Clinton's supporters say she must win to sustain her campaign for the White House. The former first lady has lost 11 straight primaries and caucuses, and trails her rival in convention delegates. Obama has won a pair of big union endorsements in the past two days.

In a University of Texas auditorium in the state capitol of Austin, the two rivals agreed that high-tech surveillance measures are preferable to construction of a fence to curtail illegal immigration. They disagreed on the proper response to a change in government in Cuba in the wake of Fidel Castro's resignation. Clinton said she would refuse to sit down with incoming President Raul Castro until he implements political and economic reforms. Obama said he would meet "without preconditions," but added the U.S. agenda for such a session would include human rights in the Communist island nation. They also sparred frequently about health care, a core issue of the campaign. Clinton said repeatedly that Obama's plan would leave 15 million Americans uncovered. But he, in turn, accused the former first lady of mishandling the issue by working in secrecy when her husband was in the White House. "I'm going to do things differently," he said. "We can have great plans, but if we don't change how the politics is working in Washington, then neither of our plans are going to happen." "Words are important and words matter but actions speak louder than words," she said. Obama agreed with that, then noted that Clinton lately had been urging voters to turn against him by saying, "let's get real. And the implication is that the people who've been voting for me or are involved in my campaign are somehow delusional," Obama said, and received a huge applause.

Probably Senator Clinton’s best moment was her closing statement as she reflected on her well-known personal struggles. "Everyone here knows I've lived through some crises and some challenging moments in my life," she said — a clear reference to her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. But she added that nothing she had been through matched the everyday struggles of voters. Then, offering unprompted praise to her rival, the one-time front-runner said, "No matter what happens in this contest, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama." Was this her closing statement on her campaign?

Both candidates were plainly popular with the debate audience. During one break someone in the crowd shouted "Si se puede," Spanish for Obama's trademark phrase, "Yes we can." Clinton went into the debate needing a change in the course of the campaign, and waited patiently for an opening to try to diminish her rival, seated inches away on the stage. "I think you can tell from the first 45 minutes Senator Obama and I have a lot in common," she said. Clinton largely sidestepped a question about so-called superdelegates, members of Congress, governors and party leaders who were not picked in primaries and caucuses. She said the issue would sort itself out, and "we'll have a unified Democratic party" for the fall campaign. But Obama, who has won more primaries and caucuses said the contests must "count for something ... that the will of the voters ... is what ultimately will determine who our next nominee is going to be."

Obama's strong showing has made him the man to beat in a historic struggle between a Black man and a White woman, and even former President Bill Clinton has said his wife must win both Ohio and Texas March 4 to preserve her candidacy. New polls show Texas a dead heat, and give Clinton a lead in Ohio, but far smaller than the one she held in recent weeks. Rhode Island and Vermont also vote on March 4, but offer far fewer delegates and have drawn less attention. In a further sign of his growing strength, Obama won the endorsement during the day of the Change to Win labor federation, which claims 6 million members. The Teamsters union announced its support for Obama on Wednesday.

Change to Win Endorses Senator Obama

The new Change to Win labor federation gave its first presidential endorsement to Democratic Senator Barack Obama on Thursday, saying its 6 million members could help push him over the top and into the general election as the Democratic nominee. The endorsement comes one day after the endorsement by the federation’s largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced yesterday the union’s endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president. “Senator Obama understands the challenges working people face every day,” Hoffa said. “He is the candidate in the best position to lead our movement to restore the American dream for working people in this country. Senator Obama will fight for better wages, real health care reform, stronger retirement security, fair trade and an end to the outsourcing of good jobs. He understands the importance of giving workers a voice at work and will fight for strong unions to help rebuild America’s middle class. Senator Obama will stand with the Teamsters when it comes to fighting for working families,” Hoffa said. “This endorsement begins a partnership to change America. Together we will reinvent the political process and give a voice to those who have been ignored by the Bush administration for the past eight years.” The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Change to Win Chair Anna Burger said, "We think it's time to bring this nomination to a close." The endorsement came after a teleconference between Change to Win's leaders and the heads of the seven labor unions that make up the federation. The federation's members will now head to the crucial election states of Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island for the March 4 primaries, as well as Pennsylvania on April 22. Change to Win has 175,000 members in Ohio, 60,000 in Texas and 25,000 in Rhode Island, Burger said. Besides leafleting, knocking on doors and advocating for Obama at workplaces, Burger said she expected more than 100,000 Change to Win voters to participate in the Ohio primary alone. "There is certainly a movement building here," Burger said. "The winds of change are blowing and they're blowing for Barack Obama."

The federation's endorsement was more about approving of Obama than disapproving of Clinton, Burger said, but she did note that NAFTA was passed while Clinton's husband, former President Clinton, was in office. Unions have been highly critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it disproportionally hurt working-class voters. Clinton has become a NAFTA critic even though she has previously helped champion the measure as a product of her husband's presidency. "Barack Obama has a history of standing up for working-class families," said Burger, who called him the strongest candidate for Democrats in the general election.

Four of Change to Win's unions already had endorsed Obama, with the Teamsters endorsing him Wednesday. UNITE HERE, the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers also have endorsed Obama. The federation's endorsement now means those unions will coordinate their efforts for Obama and have access to Change to Win resources.

The unions in the Change to Win federation broke from the AFL-CIO in 2005 over internal disagreements on how best to build organized labor's membership and political clout. The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, has not endorsed any candidate in the Democratic primary, although it has allowed its 56 member unions to make individual endorsements. Senator Obama has been endorsed by three AFL-CIO unions: the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Transport Workers Union and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. He also has the backing of the independent National Weather Service Employees Organization.

Obama Wins Democrats Abroad Primary

Even U.S. citizens living in other countries are voting for Senator Barack Obama as witnessed by his winning the Democrats Abroad global primary. The results were announced today, giving him 11 straight victories in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Illinois senator won the primary in which Democrats living in other countries voted by Internet, mail and in person, according to results released by the Democrats Abroad, an organization sanctioned by the national party.

More than 20,000 U.S. citizens living abroad voted in the primary, which ran from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12. Senator Obama won about 65 percent of the vote. Voters living in 164 countries cast votes online, while expatriates voted in person in more than 30 countries, at hotels in Australia and Costa Rica, at a pub in Ireland and at a Starbucks in Thailand. The results took about a week to tabulate as local committees around the globe gathered ballots. Italian Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri, who has dual citizenship, cast a vote for Obama in Rome. "It wasn't an easy choice for me. I would still love seeing a ticket with Obama and Hillary (Clinton)," Melandri told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "A drive for change is what is needed in the U.S. and I think that Obama has that drive."

The Democrats Abroad control only seven pledged delegates at the party's national convention this summer. But at this point every delegate counts. This should give Senator about five more and Senator Clinton two more. Heading into the Democrats Abroad primary, Obama led with 1,351 delegates, and Clinton had 1,262.

"I Felt the 'Fierce Urgency of Now' in Dallas"

Post from Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: Check out this Burnt Orange Report diary from a Texan who attended the rally in Dallas on Wednesday.

“I'm a son of two teenage parents, born into a middle, and often time's, poor class home in Euless, Texas. Our family struggled through Reaganomic's like most families did during the 80's. Despite the hard times, we talked about, and prayed about the hope of a better day. My father worked at times three jobs while my mother stayed at home to tend to my brother, later my sister, and I. We lived in a trailer home for some time in East Texas where we often lived off of macaroni, cheese, and tuna. My father took up the trade of being a brick mason and managed to stabilize our nuclear family as a standard middle class family in Euless, Texas. Despite these struggles we always talked about, and prayed about, the hope of a better day.

My mother was a stay at home mom who, with strict discipline, challenged my siblings and me to work harder, think smarter, and demand better of ourselves. To hope that better days would lay in our future by being good contributors to society and that through our hard work we too can achieve the American Dream and not have to struggle like they did.

The power of hope is what has sustained my family and defined my life. It is what has managed to build the foundation from which my 28 years of life bore, thus far, for all to see. Hope is all that millions of Americans have these days after the eight years of pure hell we've experienced under Bush administration policies. Hope is what leads me to believe that, with hard work, a little intelligence, giving back to my community, and a bit of discipline, that a gay man from Euless, Texas, can be president some day.

This, all of these thoughts, are what wound through my mind as I listened to (Senator Barack) Obama. It is what I reflected on as we drove home this afternoon. It is what has tears in my eyes as I write. My life is hope.

And hope is what is sending me to the polls 10 minutes from now to cast my vote for Barack Obama, and caucus for him at 7:15pm on March 4th.”

This is the kind of inspiration that Senator Obama is bringing to the American people. Hope is what drives people to put one foot in front of the other and move from baby steps to long strides toward realizing your dreams.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Texas Students March to Vote

Senator Barack Obama’s run for president has sparked young people all over the country to not only register, but to actually get to the polls and vote. This story from Texas reveals just how committed the new voters are to exercising their rights.

Post from Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: A remarkably inspiring story out of Texas...

“Hundreds of students at Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college and university (HBCU), on Tuesday began rallying for their right to vote. They say a decision to eliminate all but one early voting location in Waller County makes it hard for students to cast ballots. The marchers, in black shirts with the slogan “It is 2008 and we will vote,” carried signs and demanded changes in how elections are run in the rural county about 40 miles outside of Houston. Police estimated that the crowd topped 2,000 as the marchers paraded from the Prairie View A&M campus seven miles to the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead.

It was just last week, after U.S. Justice Department officials got involved, that Waller County authorities added three temporary polling places for early voting. Still, those locations do not open until Friday, while early voting has been going since Tuesday.

Voters rights have long been a sore subject in Waller County. The county has been embroiled in a number of lawsuits for more than two decades and the Texas Attorney General’s Office is still investigating how the county conducts elections after complaints by local Black leaders.”

If Senator Hillary Clinton thought that Texas would be an easy victory, she had better open her eyes. While she and Senator John McCain were speaking to their small groups of supporters Tuesday, Senator Obama was speaking to over 19,000 in Houston followed up by a rally in Dallas with a crowd of 17,000 in side Reunion Arena which overflowed outside. The Dallas rally started at 12 noon. Some of the attendees reportedly were in line at 6am.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Senator Obama Rolls in Wisconsin and Hawaii

Sure Senator Barack Obama was favored to win in Hawaii where he grew up, but the analysts said that Wisconsin was tailor-made and fertile ground for Senator Hillary Clinton to win. This makes ten straight victories for Senator Obama. Demographically, Wisconsin was supposed to be a warm-up for Ohio: nearly 90 percent of Tuesday's voters were White; about 40 percent earn less than $50,000 annually; nearly 60 percent have no college degree; and half are over 50 years old — all demographics that have tended to favor Clinton.

Its panic button time in the Clinton camp. That explains why Clinton's aides accused Obama of plagiarism for delivering a speech that included words that had first been uttered by Massachusetts governor and a friend of Senator Obama, Deval Patrick. The charge bordered on the hypocritical since Clinton herself has borrowed Obama's lines. In another sign of desperation, the Clinton camp floated the idea of poaching delegates that Obama earned via elections. While allowable under Democratic National Committee rules, the tactic would likely divide Democrats along racial lines and set the party back decades. It would be the ultimate act of selfishness and foolishness. This is what Senator Obama is talking about when he says we need a change, even a change from the same old negative campaigning. Let’s talk about the issues – the economy, health care, the war. She said that he will not be able to defeat the Republican machine and his reply seems to be that he is standing up to and defeating the machine that beat the Republican machine – the Clinton machine.

Senator Obama is the candidate who rises above politics. This is why he is bringing so many young and first time voters. He has a new a refreshing message, a message of hope, a message of possibilities. Obama is undeniably raw. Less than four years removed from the Illinois Legislature, he stands at the brink of the Democratic nomination. His campaign has gain energy almost taking on a life form. Even the Republican winner, Senator John McCain has turner his attention to Obama and you can count on his attacks growing increasingly negative. He is in the same mind set as Clinton; both don’t seem to realize that the American voters are ready for a change.

It is not over yet. Clinton certainly knows how to bounce back. She helped her husband, Bill, recover from his experiences during his White House run and rebounded herself after a thumping in Iowa. But Senator Obama has won the most states, earned the most pledged delegates and has all the momentum. It has come down to must wins in Texas and Ohio on March 4 for Senator Clinton. Both states, once thought to be easy wins for her, now look to be up for grabs now. Clinton not only needs to win, but needs to win by at least double digits in Ohio and Texas — then Pennsylvania in April — to narrow Obama's lead among pledged delegates. Only then can she argue with a straight face that a majority of the nearly 800 free-roaming "superdelegates" should back her over Senator Obama. The realization for the superdelegates is that Senator Obama is being embraced by the voters while Senator Clinton is being rejected. Don't count her out quite yet, but Wisconsin revealed deep and destructive fractures in the Clinton coalition.

In essence, the Clinton camp made a drastic mistake of believing that they would have the Democratic nomination locked up on Super Tuesday. She figured they would roll to the nomination and begin campaigning against the Republicans with the full backing of the entire Democratic party by now. They counted on the Black vote; they counted on the female vote; they counted on the Hispanic vote; they counted on the White vote. They did not realize that voters can think for themselves. The people want unity. The people want hope. THE PEOPLE WANT “CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Orleans' All-Star Weekend

New Orleans, Louisiana, a city that has fascinated tourists for generations couldn't buy advertising this good. Hosting basketball's greatest stars for a weekend of events attended by more celebrities at any event other than the Oscar or Grammy awards and watched by millions in 215 countries was a boost in itself. Organizers of New Orleans’ first All-Star game capitalized on the New Orleans “let the good times roll” theme by greeting viewers with a French Quarter-style facade, a New Orleans brass band and “second-line” dancing so contagious that even players couldn't help from bouncing.

Local trumpeters Kermit Ruffins and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews delighted the players and the crowd, backed up by the Rebirth Brass Band, a popular attraction at local bars and clubs for years. Extras danced on the balcony, some dressed in NBA jerseys and many wearing feather boas like those often worn by revelers on Bourbon Street. The national anthem featured saxophone player Branford Marsalis and singer Stephanie Jordan, both New Orleans natives. Debra Cox sang the Canadian national anthem. New Orleans Hornets All-Stars Chris Paul and David West said a few words on the city's behalf. The halftime performance featured a host of famous New Orleans musicians, including singer Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Davell Crawford, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, Jonathan Batiste and Ellis Marsalis, who is the patriarch of the musical Marsalis family and Connick's one-time teacher. The pre-game and halftime entertainment featured the second part of a two-pronged message the NBA sought to send the world about New Orleans. On Friday, the league focused on the neighborhoods that are still reeling 2 1/2 years after Katrina struck. All-Stars joined 2,500 league employees on rebuilding projects. But in addition to sending the message that New Orleans still needs help, commissioner David Stern said the league also wanted to remind the world that the cultural attractions that drive the all-important tourism industry here have endured. "New Orleans is known for its tourism, Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Essence Music Festival and all that stuff. So to be able to present itself in such a positive way is really important," Connick said. "A lot of people I know say, 'We've never been to New Orleans and we're afraid to go because it may not be back together.' So when they see this, they know hotels are back, restaurants are back. It's really coming around."

Julius Erving had a sudden flashback as he strolled past a practice court set up in the Louisiana Superdome. Dr. J, who including his years as a player has been to 37 straight All-Star weekends, played before a then-record setting single-game crowd of 35,077 in a game against the New Orleans Jazz in 1977. The Jazz played in New Orleans for five seasons from 1974 to 1979 before moving to Utah, playing their final four seasons in the Superdome. The Jazz never made the playoffs. But with “Pistol” Pete Maravich, a former LSU star, making circus shots and passes, attendance in the dome met or exceeded league averages in three of those seasons.

As usual, the All-Star game was a star-studded affair not only on the court but in the stands. Those making VIP entrances on a red carpet included governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other celebs such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, Chris Rock, Terry Crews, Ludacris and Jimmy "Jam" Harris. With the game being in New Orleans, however, former Saints quarterback Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli, was treated like the biggest star if them all. The crowd erupted when his face appeared on the scoreboard video screen. Who heard boos? Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens.

Carlton Lockett, a 15 year old liver transplant patient who was a guest of the NBA and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, had a surprise for Dwight Howard. When the Orlando center, who won Saturday's slam dunk contest after donning a Superman outfit complete with a red cape, met Lockett, the youngster from Cleveland busted into his own "Superman" move made famous by Soulja Boy's popular "Crank Dat" song. "I showed him how to do it," said the excited youngster. Lockett and three other sick youngsters got a chance to visit with all the players before Sunday's game. The biggest thrill for Lockett was when he got to meet Allen Iverson, his all-time favorite.

Dwight Howard's sensational display of athleticism and imagination in the slam dunk contest, highlighted by a dunk while donning the Man of Steel's cape, and was still being talked about Sunday. Both All-Star coaches compared it to Vince Carter’s acrobatic performance in 2000. "The dunks that he did last night, I thought I would never see some of those dunks," Western Conference coach Byron Scott said. "You just don't see guys that tall and that big having that type of athleticism.” Though the Superman dunk got the most attention, it may not even have been Howard's most impressive one. Boston All-Star Kevin Garnett was impressed by Howard's next one, when he caught up to a long bounce pass he threw to himself, leaped and tapped the ball off the backboard with one hand, then threw it down with the other. Garnett and East coach Doc Rivers also praised the performance of runner-up Gerald Green, whose dunks included one while blowing out a candle on a cupcake resting on the rim. "Dwight put on a show that we've not seen very often," Rivers said. "I think it's very similar to what Vince Carter did as an individual in the dunk contest.

Cleveland’s LaBron James was given the Most Valuable Player trophy, although Boston’s Ray Allen was truly deserving of the award, even LaBron himself said so. Then there was Kobi Bryant (did I here somebody say the new attitude Kobi?). I don’t think so. Why didn’t he sit out the game and let someone else get to play in what might be their only chance to experience this. He was hurt and only was in the game a couple of minutes. Share the spotlight playa. We know who you are. The NBA did an outstanding job. The NFL is moving the Pro Bowl from Hawaii, and maybe they should pick up in New Orleans where the NBA left off.

Michelle Obama...Powerful Beyond Measure

I was trying to come up with a blog for Black folks I meet who say if Senator Barack Obama wins “they will kill him,” and I have to use one of my old school saying, “if I listen to one of your excuses I have to hear all of your excuses.” GET OUT AND VOTE PEOPLE!

Then I read my daughter’s blog - Michelle Obama…Powerful Beyond Measure and I could not add any thing else. Please read, I know you will enjoy.

Monday, February 11, 2008
Michelle Obama...Powerful Beyond Measure

“This week, I had the pleasure of conversation with three of my very intelligent, very enlightened girlfriends. It was really more of a friendly debate, two against two - two arguing that Senator Obama is electable and worthy of the presidency, and two arguing that the Hillary is the better candidate. I'm fairly certain I don't have to tell you which side I fell on (silly grin). The real fireworks started when one of the ladies remarked that one of the 'real' reasons she didn't want to see the Senator elected is because 'they gon' kill him, and I just couldn't stand to see that!' ggrrrr. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've heard that from black women and a few men. Obviously, in light of our history in this country and what our ancestors had to endure at the hands of racists, their concerns are understandable; I've allowed myself to think the same thoughts at times, and undoubtedly, Michelle Obama has had the thought run through her mind a time or two. Ironically, the very next day after my conversation with my colleagues, I stumbled upon a video on you that says it better than I ever could - watch it for yourself at An amazing coincidence? Maybe not. Maybe the Lord God at work. Out of Michelle Obama's own mouth - she refuses to allow thoughts of losing her husband sway her from doing what she knows in her heart is best for the country. She gave her blessing to the Senator to throw his hat in the ring for the presidency because as she put it, she was 'tired of living in fear'. There is no better way to say it - my job is done here, except to say that we could and should learn a lot from this strong black woman. It is so easy for us in our lives in general to let fear prevent us from taking the steps to do more, be more, and give more. Michelle Obama is making the ultimate sacrifice of her time, her family's quality of life, and yes, her peace of mind, in light of the fact that there is a very real danger that some lunatic will try and hurt her husband. But as I watched her in this video, I saw visions of Coretta Scott-King, Winnie Mandella, and a host of other remarkable black women around the world who knew without doubt, even if not without fear, that the cause to which their husbands were called was greater than that fear, greater than their hopes, and greater even than their simple dreams of a long life with their spouses. And because she has given so much to the cause of moving this nation in a better direction, it means that no matter what happens this next election year, Michelle Obama is my hero for life, and another shining example for the young black women in this nation to live by. So to my friends I say, suggesting that we should allow fear to prevent us from doing everything in our power to elect Senator Obama, is like saying that we would somehow undo the entire civil rights movement itself if we could only get Martin Luther King, Jr. back. The idea is ludicrous and counter-productive; I don't believe either man would even entertain the thought, neither would their wives. So as black women, it is time for us to beat down our fears like they owe us child support, and wrap ourselves in the hope of a better future for our families, our communities, and our nation. It's the only way that change will come, and isn't that what it's all about?”


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Grambling Fight Song Makes Top 25

Grambling State University was recently voted number 12 on the list of top 25 college fight songs in the U.S. The list is found on the Fans Voices Web site. GSU is the only historically Black college and university (HBCU) school on the list that includes such national powers as #1 Norte Dame, #3 USC, and #11 Florida State. See the complete list at

There is nothing more exciting as hearing the world-famous GSU marching band playing the fight song on a fall afternoon at a Tiger football game and singing along in the mist of thousands waving black and gold pom poms. Legendary football coach Eddie Robinson even had it played at his funeral.

Fight! for Dear Old Grambling
Fight! we're gonna win
Light! the torch of victory
We will win this game, Rah! Rah! Rah!
Fight! for Dear Old Grambling
Fight! we're gonna win
There's no doubt that we are

Is it football season yet?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Harlem Globetrotters Retire Curly Neal's No. 22

The Harlem Globetrotters will retire Curly Neal's number 22 jersey on February 15th.
Curly Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 22 (1963-85) years with the Globetrotters appearing in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries. "Curly Neal Weekend" will also feature games Feb. 16 and 18 at IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Feb. 17 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

Neal will be just the fifth Globetrotter in the team's 82-year history to have his number retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (13), Meadowlark Lemon (36), Marques Haynes (20) and Goose Tatum (50).

"Curly Neal represents everything that is great about the Globetrotters and the game of basketball," Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said in a statement. "He helped build this organization into a worldwide phenomenon, and we are proud to bestow this honor upon him. He truly personifies wholesome family entertainment and elicits fond memories for millions of fans around the world." Following in the footsteps of the great Marques Haynes, Neal became the Trotters' feature ballhandler, a key role in the team's exhibition act.

During his time with the team, he appeared on several television shows and specials, including "ABC's Wide World of Sports," "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" and "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine"; an animated version of Neal also appeared on "The Harlem Globetrotters" cartoon series and on episodes of "Scooby Doo."

Born Fred Neal May 19, 1941 in Greensboro, North Carolina, he attended Greensboro-Dudley High School, a perennial power in the state that also produced Atlanta Hawks All-Star Lou Hudson and NFL Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders (who played on the basketball team). Curly went to Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black college and university, where he averaged 23.1 points a game and was named All-CIAA guard in a very competitive conference that produced players such as Al Attles, Jumpin' Jackie Jackson, and Earl Monroe. His shaved head earned him his nickname (a reference to Three Stooges' Curly Howard) and made him one of the most recognizable Globetrotters. He was recently inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

NAACP Image Awards

Actor Hill Harper, winner of the NAACP Image Award for his role on CSI: NY, expressed my sentiments exactly (The Nubian Epistle focus: presenting positive images of Black people without bringing others down) when he stated, It's called an Image Award and I believe they're not just looking at acting, but they're looking at the image you portray and how you live your life. I'm very proud to win it, because I try to lift up and break stereotypes about the African-American male, and I'm proud of my work. It's not just about acting."

Other winners included Actor Denzel Washington, who won for his roll in the movie The Great Debaters, which won for best movie. He said, "I'm happy for everybody up here," who also directed the film. "I'm very grateful for this award and particularly just happy that some of these young people got recognized. Denzel sported a shaved head, for his upcoming movie, The Taking of Pelham 123. The Great Debaters also produced other winners including younger actors Jurnee Smollett and Denzel Whitaker. Alicia Keys won four awards in the music category -- album, song, music video and female artist.

Senator Barack Obama didn't earn any trophies at this year's NAACP Image Awards, but he was a winner even though his name was not mentioned. Many stars such as actor/director Tyler Perry just dropped campaign catch phases such as “Yes we can.” Perry, whose House of Payne TV series picked up three awards and is known for playing multiple characters, joked, "I'm voting three times: one as myself, one as Madea and one as Joe." House of Payne's additional wins were for its stars LaVan Davis and Lance Gross.

Hill Harper, who is a member of Senator Obama campaign finance committee, revealed, "Barack Obama and I have known each other for 20 years. We went to Harvard Law School together." The timing of the writers strike was perfect for Harper to hit the campaign trail in support of Obama; he's due back on the set the day after the March 4 primaries. Other winners were less partial to a specific candidate, but did point to politics:

Stevie Wonder, inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame, used his time onstage to praise the 99-year-old organization, saying "it's through this organization that we now have two (presidential) candidates, one a female and the other an African-American. … I say let them both win so that we can have a strong, united people of the United States. I'm very, very excited about the possibility." Ugly Betty's Vanessa Williams, supporting actress in a comedy series winner, said: "This is such an exciting time in our lives. We can all feel the change happening and we all have the power. Vote." And Regina Taylor, who won an acting award for her role on CBS' The Unit, said the trophy was a great honor, partly because "when we're looking at the news and seeing a woman running for president and a Black man running for president, you have to look back and see how we got here, and the NAACP is the organization that was in the center of it."

Special honors went to veteran Oscar-nominated actress Ruby Dee and to singer Aretha Franklin. Aretha said she had attended the NAACP ceremony since the early days, "when the sets were falling down and cue cards were being written in the wings just before the artists walked on stage," she said. "This is the icing on the cake for me."

Obama-related works actually did win awards: a TVOne interview and a biography by David Mendell.

Two Powerful Unions Backs Obama

Senator Barack Obama won the support today of the 1.9-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), his second endorsement in as many days from large labor organizations and a fresh sign of momentum in the Democratic presidential race with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. "There has never been a fight in Illinois or a fight in the nation where our members have not asked Barack Obama for assistance and he has not done everything he could to help us," Andy Stern, the union's president, told reporters in announcing the decision. Stern said that in the months since union leaders met with several Democratic candidates last fall, "the excitement has been building and building for Obama."

The politically active union represents workers in health care, building services and other industries. SEIU backing is one of the most important labor endorsements available. The organization has donated more than $25 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, since 1989. In addition, the union has a powerful get-out-the-vote structure and has been courted by all the Democratic candidates since the beginning of the race. Sarah Swisher, a superdelegate and member of the SEIU from Iowa City, had committed to Edwards. After he quit the race, she switched to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, but she changed her mind again after her union endorsed Senator Obama. "That will be kind of cool," Swisher said. "I will have supported all three.". Stern said the Obama endorsement came after careful consideration, and polling of the membership. "Our members and leaders really feel that American needs profound change and something that engages the next generation," Stern said, adding that Obama fits the bill.

On Thursday, Senator Obama collected the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a politically active union with significant membership in the upcoming Democratic battlegrounds. The 1.3-million member UFCW has 69,000 members in Ohio and another 26,000 in Texas. The food workers also have 19,000 members in Wisconsin, which holds a primary Tuesday. The union is made up of supermarket workers and meatpackers, with 40 percent of the membership under 30 years old. Obama has been doing especially well among young voters.

Senator Obama would only need to pick up one more union endorsement to be eligible to collect the Change to Win labor federation's support. There are seven unions in the federation, and it would take endorsements from at least four of them to make the federation consider a joint endorsement. Obama was endorsed in January by UNITE HERE, which along with SEIU and the UFCW, give him three of the seven member unions. The Teamsters, the Laborers' International Union of North America, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America have yet to endorse a candidate. The seventh union, the United Farm Workers, endorsed Clinton in January. Obama also was endorsed earlier this month by the Transport Workers Union and the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

There are now rumors that the Democratic National Committee is trying to figure out how to ask Senator Clinton to bow out of the race so that the whole party can get behind the one leading candidate and the candidate with the best chance of winning in November.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Senator Obama Takes Delegate Lead: Wins 3 more Primaries

Senator Barack Obama powered past Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for Democratic convention delegates Tuesday on another night of triumphs as he swept primary victories in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. His victories were by large margins — he was gaining about 75 percent of the vote in the nation's capital and nearly two-thirds in Virginia. He had 62 percent of the vote in early Maryland returns.

Obama moved past Clinton in the delegate chase on the basis of the day's primaries and newly released results from last Saturday's Washington caucuses. Additional delegates still to be allocated from his new victories were certain to add to his lead. Obama’s share of the Black vote approached 90 percent, and he split the white vote with Clinton. She led among white women, but he was preferred by a majority of white men. "Tonight we're on our way," Obama told cheering supporters in Madison, Wisconsin. "But we know how much further we have to go on," he added, celebrating eight straight victories over Clinton, the former first lady now struggling in a race she once commanded.

By contrast, the Clinton campaign is unsettled. She has lost her long-held lead in delegates and is retooling to retool her staff in the midst of a losing streak. As the votes were counted in her latest setbacks, her deputy campaign manager stepped down. Mike Henry announced his departure one day after Patti Solis Doyle was replaced as campaign manager with Maggie Williams, a longtime confidante of the former first lady. Senator Clinton lent her campaign $5 million in recent days, and is facing defeats next week in Wisconsin and Hawaii.

Both candidates now turn their main attention on the huge amount of delegates in Texas and Ohio, with both states holding primaries on March 4. Rhode Island and Vermont also vote on that date. — the biggest single day left on the Democratic nominating calendar when 370 delegates are allocated. Texas and Ohio will be the main focus, however, where voters will select 193 and 141 delegates, respectively. Between them, the two states have another 55 super delegates. It has almost come to the point that Senator Clinton has to win both states to stay in the race. She has basically written off Wisconsin and Hawaii, which hold primaries next week. She immediately started campaigning in Texas in El Paso, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and McAllen, all predominantly Latino cities where her husband, the former president, is so popular his portrait hangs in many Mexican restaurants. Senator Obama, campaigning for every vote, was in Wisconsin tonight. Both however, begin running TV ads in Texas and Ohio today though. Texas Obama supporters held a rally in Dallas to watch the east coast primary results and got ready to hit the street tomorrow. All the analysts predict that Senator Clinton should win in Texas with its large Latino population, but there is major Obama excitement in North Texas.

Obama Gains Momentum and a Grammy Too!

Senator Barack Obama could hardly have had a better weekend. On Sunday he added the Maine Democratic presidential caucus to the three contests he swept Saturday against rival Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, giving him momentum heading into Tuesday's voting in three mid-Atlantic states. And for dessert, he won a Grammy award Sunday night, beating out another Clinton. He beat former president Bill Clinton and others to win a Grammy for ‘best spoken word album,” for the audio version of his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”

While Senator Obama was gaining momentum and having a great weekend, Senator Clinton’s campaign was in a regrouping mode. She replaced her campaign manager on Sunday. Maybe Ms. Patti Solis Doyle, who is of Hispanic decent, could not deliver enough Latino votes. Whatever the reason, it is strange to “change horses in the middle of the stream.”

The Democratic nomination is far from decided, with weeks or months of campaigning still ahead. But, for now, the wind is at Obama's back. Polls published Sunday showed him leading in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia which hold primaries Tuesday. Barring a Clinton upset in one of those states, her best bet to slow his momentum may lie in upcoming primaries in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Senator Obama was extremely happy Sunday, telling a crowd of 18,000 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, "We have won on the Atlantic coast, we have won on the Gulf coast, we have won on the Pacific coast and we have won between those coasts." Obama has looked buoyant and confident in recent days, basking in huge crowds that cheer him loudly and call out "We love you" and "Yes we can!" Another 1,000 people listened in overflow rooms, typical of the overcapacity crowds Obama has drawn repeatedly. Over the weekend he filled arenas ranging from an 18,000-seat arena in Seattle to a 7,000-seat gym in Bangor, Maine. In each case, several thousand people had to listen and wait outside for a glimpse of the popular candidate — remarkable crowds for campaign events nine months before a general election. Seasoned analysts say they haven’t seen anything like it since John F. Kennedy in the 1960’s. Senator Clinton draws good-sized audiences. But Senator Obama's crowds tend to be several times larger when the two senators campaign in the same state within a day or two of each other.

Both candidates are vying for the endorsement of former candidate John Edwards. Clinton quietly visited Edwards last Thursday in North Carolina, and Obama reportedly planned to do the same Monday after two rallies in Maryland.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Herbie Shocks Music World

Herbie Hancock shocked just about anyone who was watching the Grammy Awards Show when the jazz veteran won the night's big prize for best-album with his "River: The Joni Letters." The album, a collection of Joni Mitchell's music, features various singers, including Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Ray, and Tina Turner.
Herbie was as surprised as anyone. "It's immeasurable how surprised I am," Hancock said Sunday night after the show. "I didn't even hear my name at first," he continued. "Then I heard the word 'River' and I said, 'Is this true? Is this happening?'"

It was the 11th Grammy for the 67-year-old jazz great. He also won for best contemporary jazz album. But his win was a surprise for most music industry watchers, who saw the best-album category as a duel between Kanye West and Amy Winehouse.

Both performers won more that there fair share though. Kanye West won four Grammy awards and Amy Winehouse won five awards. Recording academy president Neil Portnow said, "I don't think sales have anything to do with what the academy decides in awarding albums or records. It's about excellence in music. "I think it was a very respectable choice."

Country singer Vince Gill, a 19-time winner and fellow nominee for album of the year, said Hancock deserved the award. "I think Herbie Hancock, hands down," he said, "is a better musician than all of us here put together."

Other highlights of the show included Alicia Keys opening the show with a duet with “Old Blue Eyes,” Frank Sinatra. I loved the old school – new school collaboration of Morris Day and the Time and Rhanna. But the show stopper was the duet with Beyonce and Tina Turner, with the 68 year old Tina showing that she could still move.

Herbie Hancock ended his acceptance speech with Senator Barack Obama slogan “Yes We Can”.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ex-Governor Wilder Still Upset Over Clinton Comment

The nation's first elected Black governor said Saturday he is not ready to excuse comments former President Bill Clinton made about Senator Barack Obama. "Barack Obama is not a fairy tale. He is real," former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder told reporters at a Democratic fundraiser.

In campaigning for his wife last month on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Clinton called Obama's opposition to the Iraq war "a fairy tale." Clinton suggested Obama had toned down his early anti-war fervor during his 2004 Senate campaign.
Wilder, the grandson of slaves, who was elected in 1989 in what was once the Confederate capital, endorsed Obama last month. Now Richmond's mayor, Wilder's comments still get the attention of the state's Black voters.

Clinton also implied that an Obama victory in South Carolina would amount to a reward based on race. Wilder said the former president's comments stung him and other Black voters and diminished their respect for the former president.

In stops across Virginia, Clinton was careful Saturday to avoid any comment remotely critical of his wife's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia hold primaries Tuesday.

Friends and supporters get a little in the heat of battle, wouldn’t you say? The old saying that “sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you” doesn’t quite ring true in the game of politics.

Senator Obama Sweeps 3 States and Virgin Islands

Senator Barack Obama swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska, Washington state, and the Virgin Islands Saturday night, completing his best night of the campaign so far, and slicing into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's slender delegate lead in their historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Today, voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say 'yes we can'" Obama told a cheering audience of Democrats at a party dinner in Richmond, Virginia. Clinton preceded Obama to the podium and did not refer to the night's voting. She left quickly after her speech, departing before Obama's arrival. But his supporters made their presence known, sending up chants of "Obama" from the audience as she made her way offstage.

Senator Obama's winning margins ranged from substantial to crushing. He won roughly two-thirds of the vote in Washington state and Nebraska, and almost 90 percent in the Virgin Islands. With returns counted from nearly two-thirds of the Louisiana precincts, he was gaining 53 percent of the vote, to 39 percent for Senator Clinton. As in his earlier Southern triumphs in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, Obama, rode a wave of African-American support to victory in Louisiana.

The campaign is starting to resemble Super Bowl XLII, when the New England Patriots were heavily favored but were upset by the New York Giants. Just two months ago Senator Clinton was leading in the polls by over 20 percent and heavily favored to win the democratic nomination. Now Senator Obama has kept it close and the pressure is squarely on the back of the former first lady.

In overall totals in The Associated Press count, Clinton had 1,064 delegates to 1,029 for Obama. A total of 2,025 are required to win the nomination at the national convention in Denver. With the night's events, 29 of the 50 states have selected delegates. Maine, with 24 delegates, holds caucuses on Sunday. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and voting by Americans overseas are next, on Tuesday. Senator Obama is highly likely to win in Maryland, Virginia, and DC. Senator Clinton should do well in Maine. But In politics, who knows.

The date of March 4 looms large, 370 delegates in primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont. Mississippi is alone in holding a primary one week later, with a relatively small 33 delegates at stake. Puerto Rico anchors the Democratic calendar, with 55 delegates chosen in caucuses on June 7.

Friday, February 8, 2008

America's Favorite Movie Star

He is like fine wine, he just gets better with age. Denzel Washington, the star of two highly acclaimed movies last year, American Gangster and The Great Debaters, is still considered America’ favorite actor for the second consecutive year.

The two-time Academy Award winner beat out Tom Hanks for the second year in a row in the annual Harris Poll. Will Smith, the star of I Am Legend, came in fifth. They were the only two Blacks included in the survey.

Other stars included in the poll were Johnny Depp (3), Julia Roberts (4), John Wayne (6) (How long has he been dead?), Matt Damon and Sean Connery (tied for 7th), Sandra Bullock (9) and Bruce Willis (10).

I really loved The Great Debaters. I put it in my top ten, maybe top five. That would make Denzel have three of my top ten; the others are A Soldier’s Story and Glory. I tend to favor movies and books with an historical flavor to them. Mmm, sounds like a topic for my next blog.

Obama Slogan Attracting New Voters

This past Tuesday was a day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about in his “I Have A Dream” speech. One of the media’s main topics was how Senator Barack Obama would surely win the states with heavy Black populations, which only included Alabama and Georgia on that “Super Tuesday”. However, at the end of the day he won the popular vote in 13 of the 21 states and American Samoa holding primaries or caucuses, and standing with him when he spoke to his supporters was an audience of every race shouting "Yes We Can."

Three days after the voting ended, and the race for Democratic delegates in Super Tuesday's contests is still too close to call. With nearly 1,600 delegates from Tuesday contests awarded, Sen. Barack Obama led by two delegates as of today, Friday, with 91 delegates still to be awarded. Obama won 796 delegates in Tuesday's contests, to 794 for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to analysis of voting results by The Associated Press.

Nearly a third of the outstanding delegates are from Colorado, a state where Obama won the popular vote. California, a state that Clinton carried, had 20 Democratic delegates still to be awarded. Neither state expected to have complete results before next week.

In the overall race for the nomination, Clinton has 1,055 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as super delegates. Obama has
998. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination.

One of the exciting things that Obama brings to the table is that he has gotten the younger voters involved. Exit polls show that there are more 18 to 21 year olds and first time voters participating in the process than ever. He is not only winning the Black vote, but also, White males, younger White females. He is also drawing the independents. Clinton is winning the older White female, the Latino, and the Asian votes.

Writer's Strike Won't Affect NAACP Image Awards

The Writer’s Strike is having a major impact on the Hollywood awards season, traditionally the first two months of the year. The People’s Choice Awards and Golden Globe Awards have altered their formats because celebrities refused to cross picket lines.

The NAACP Image Awards will go on with its normal routine because the NAACP signed an interim agreement with the Writers Guild of America that will allow the hiring of WGA writers to script the show and that there will be no picketing of the event by striking writers. The Writer’s Guild also has granted a waiver permitting the use of clips from motion pictures and television programs.

The president of WGA West said, “because of the historic role the NAACP has played in struggles like ours, we think this decision is appropriate to jointly achieve our goals.”

The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the achievements and performances of people of color in the arts as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice. Contrary to popular belief, the NAACP helps people of all colors, Black, Brown, Red, White, and Yellow.

The NAACP Image Awards is scheduled to air live of the FOX network on Valentine's Day.

Baltimore and Cleveland Sue Banks Due to Foreclosure Crisis

Baltimore, Maryland is suing Wells Fargo Bank, alleging that the lender engaged in “irresponsible subprime lending practices.” And Cleveland, Ohio sued 21 lenders under the Ohio’s public nuisance law, accusing the banks of violating the fare-housing laws.

According to the lawsuit filed by Baltimore, Black neighborhoods in the city were disproportionately affected by the rise of subprime mortgages, leading to rates nearly double the citywide average that cost Baltimore millions of dollars. The lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo targeted Black neighborhoods for high-risk and unfairly priced loans – a practice known as reverse redlining, which is prohibited under the federal Fair Housing Act.

“Foreclosures reduce home values in whole neighborhoods, driving tax revenues down and costs for fire and police services up. These foreclosures are destabilizing neighborhoods that taxpayers have invested in…Wells Fargo has left every person in Baltimore holding the bag,” said Baltimore’s Mayor Sheila Dixon. “We’re not going to stand by and accept that.”

Cleveland sued 21 of the largest Wall Street investment banks claiming that these lenders created a “public nuisance” by issuing bad loans, which caused the foreclosure crisis in its city. Foreclosure sales have more that quadrupled in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County since 2000.

According to an independent study 8.8 percent of residential properties in Cleveland were involved in foreclosure sales during the past seven year. According to Mayor Frank Jackson, there were over 7,000 foreclosures in 2006 and 2007. He says crime has skyrocketed in the areas where boarded up houses are a common site.

Some of the banks named in the suit are Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo. The mayor contends the companies irresponsibly bought and sold high-interest home loans. The result: widespread defaults that depleted the city’s tax base and left entire neighborhoods abandoned.

A report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors projected that 361 metropolitan areas would take an economic hit of $166 billion in 2008 because of the foreclosure crisis.

What Is A Subprime Loan? Typically, subprime loans are for persons with blemished or limited credit histories. The loans carry a higher rate of interest than prime loans to compensate for increased credit risk. About 80 percent of subprime borrowers have adjustable rate mortgages (ARM). ARMs start out with an interest rate that is lower than the rate on a fixed-rate mortgage. But after two or three years, the interest rate increases on a subprime ARM loan, and the monthly payments increase by hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. People who can’t afford the sudden monthly increases eventually go into foreclosure and lose their homes.

Earlier the banks were making a killing selling these foreclosures to investment buyers, now there are so many houses in foreclosure that it has backfired on them. As in the case with most problems (drugs, crime, etc), as long as it only affect Black and or Brown people, no problem. Now that it is spreading to suburbia, major problem.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton remain virtually deadlocked after Super Tuesday’s 22 state showdown. Senator Clinton was the winner of the biggest state, California, and also had victories in her home state of New York and neighboring New Jersey. She won Arkansas, the state in which she was the first lady in, and its neighbors, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and in another state with a large Hispanic population, Arizona.

Senator Obama struck back by winning at least 12 and possibly 14 of the 22 states up for grabs. He won in all parts of the country, from Connecticut and Delaware in the east to Alabama and Georgia in the south to Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and of course his home state of Illinois in the Midwest to Alaska, Colorado, Idaho and Utah in the west.

The analysts continue to be surprised by Senator Obama progress. They have not gotten their minds wrapped around the fact that he is able to attract people from all walks of life. They still believe that Obama can only win in states with heavy Black populations. Maybe they thought Iowa was just a fluke. I don’t think there are very many Black folks living in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, or North Dakota. Senator Barack Obama is absolutely correct when he says this is not about race, but about the American public wanting a change from the status quo in Washington, D.C. He said in a speech last night, “What began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored.” He also said, “We (the people) are who we have been waiting for to get the job done.”

Both candidates will head to Louisiana, Maine, and Washington this weekend, then Virginia and Maryland next week. Senator Obama raised $32 million in January and can spend heavily in the states to come, while Senator Clinton only raised $13 million.

See for complete details of Tuesday’s results. Well not complete details in that they did not print the percentage of Blacks who voted for Obama or Clinton. Which is strange since they detailed everything and else.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Obama - Clinton Neck and Neck on Super Tuesday

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton traded victories in an epic struggle from Connecticut to California.

Democrats played out a historic struggle between Obama, seeking to become the first Black president and Clinton, hoping to become the first female to win the White House.

Obama won Connecticut, Georgia, Alabama, Delaware, Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota, Kansas and his home state of Illinois.

Clinton won at home in New York as well as in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas, where she was first lady for more than a decade.

After an early series of low-delegate, single-state contests, Super Tuesday was anything but small — its primaries and caucuses were spread across nearly half the country in the most wide-open presidential campaign in memory.

Polling place interviews with voters suggested subtle shifts in the political landscape, potentially significant as the races push on through the campaign calendar.
Overall, Senator Clinton was winning only a slight edge among women and White voters, groups that she had won handily in earlier contests, according to preliminary results from interviews with voters in 16 states leaving polling places. Senator Obama was collecting the overwhelming majority of votes cast by Blacks.

Clinton was gaining the votes of roughly six in 10 Hispanics, and she hoped the edge would serve her well as the race turned west to Arizona, New Mexico and California, the biggest prize with 370 delegates.

The allocation of delegates lagged the vote count by hours. That was particularly true for the Democrats, who divided theirs roughly in proportion to the popular vote. In other words just because you won a state doesn’t mean you won all the delegates; he delegates will be distributed out according to the number of votes you receive.

Overall, Clinton had 325 delegates to 259 for Obama, out of the 2,025 needed to secure victory at the party convention in Denver. Clinton's advantage is due to her lead among so-called superdelegates, members of Congress and other party leaders who are not selected in primaries and caucuses — and who are also free to change their minds.

Alabama and Georgia gave Obama three straight Southern triumphs. Like last month's win in South Carolina, they were powered by Black votes. However, Senator Obama was also leading in White votes by six percent. The big ticket is California with 370 Democratic delegates where it is close, but Clinton leads in the large Latino and Asian voter blocks.

Democrats and Republicans alike said the economy was their most important issue. Democrats said the war in Iraq ranked second and health care third. Republican primary voters said immigration was second most important after the economy, followed by the war in Iraq.

Both Obama and Clinton conceded in advance that neither was likely to emerge from the busiest day in primary history with anything more than a relatively narrow edge in convention delegates.

"Senator Clinton, I think, has to be the prohibitive favorite going in given her name recognition, but we've been steadily chipping away," said Obama.

Already, both campaigns were looking ahead to February. 9 contests in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington state and February 12 primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. And increasingly, it looked like the Democrats' historic race between a Black man and a woman would go into early spring, possibly longer.