Tavis Smiley and Cornel West Talk Other Options for 2012 Election

Smiley and West say a democratic challenger could possibly make President Obama more progressive in his platform.

Posted: 08/10/2011 07:14 PM EDT
Tavis Smiley Cornell West

In an interview with Democracy Now, veteran journalist Tavis Smiley and Princeton University Professor Cornel West didn’t mince words when talking about President Obama’s re-election campaign.

 

As they both expressed in the radio interview, President Obama has lost sight of the people who really matter, and they say he has a lot of ground to cover if he plans to serve another term.

 

“He’s rightly associated much more with the oligarchs than with poor people," West told the media outlet.

 

When asked if he has been “exploring other options,” West said he would like to see someone “whose got backbone and courage.”

 

“It would be a Bernie Sanders-like figure who is fundamentally committed to the legacy of Martin King and Fannie Lou Hamer and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Dorothy Day, putting poor and working people at the center,” West said.

 

Smiley took a decidedly softer approach to the question.

 

“I don’t think the president would be hurt, necessarily—the country certainly would not be hurt—by a primary challenge that would refocus him on what really matters,” Smiley said. “ It would refocus him on what’s happening to too many people in this country. It would refocus him on a more progressive agenda.”

 

“I think if the race were held today, the president still wins,” Smiley added. “You can’t beat somebody with nobody, and I don’t see who the somebody is that can beat the president.”

(Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

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