Posted Jan. 4, 2008 – Sen. Barack Obama, after thumping his rivals in the Iowa caucuses Thursday night, seems to have quashed the notion that the White House is off-limits to Black folks – or, for that matter, that White voters are off-limits to Black candidates .
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His campaign rolled into the 95-percent White state of Iowa with a message of change and rolled out with perhaps the most unlikely victory in U.S. history. "You've got to have hope if you are a Black man named Obama running for the presidency of the United States of America," Obama said during a late-night campaign stop two days before the caucus.
But by the time the caucuses gathered to vote for their candidate of choice last night, there was clear excitement about the 46-year-old, African-American, Harvard-educated, U.S. senator from Chicago, who targeted the mostly White, old-school political establishment and its seeming inability to get past all the bickering and repeated mistakes to move America in a new direction. Calling Thursday night a "defining moment in history," Obama told the crowd, "You came together as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we are one nation, we are one people and our time for change has come."
What is perhaps most intriguing, though, is Obama’s ability to reel in women voters – despite the fact that his chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, is a woman … and not just any woman. She’s respected as a female role model because of her grasp of often complex issues, her ability to out-debate most of her male counterparts and her impressive pedigree in political experience. And, as far as Black women are concerned, Clinton is the woman who started the race with a bona fide “Black card,” given that her hubby, Bill Clinton, is still adored by African Americans. Ironically, while Clinton wrapped herself in Blackness – aligning her campaign with Black southern preachers and Black female lawmakers, and taking every opportunity to add a dab of ‘hood to her dialect during her swings through Black communities – it might have backfired in Iowa . Obama banked on the likelihood that Black folks would pay attention to his roots without making the mistake of alienating White folks by drawing attention to the obvious.
Obama was also able to attract young people – from across the political spectrum – who literally were excited about the opportunity to cast their vote for someone other their parents’ choice. In fact, according to exit surveys conducted during Thursday’s political process, Obama drew support from nearly 60 percent of the under-30 crowd. Obama’s next challenge will be in New Hampshire , a state that is 96-percent White. If the formula he concocted for his resounding victory in Iowa is as potent in New England , he might be singing Muhammad Ali’s tune at the end of the day: “I shocked the world!”
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