They say that history never repeats itself, but the Democratic National Committee is hoping to do just that by ensuring that record numbers of African-Americans head to the polls in November to support President Obama. According to DNC chair and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party is developing “the most dynamic grass roots presidential campaign in American history” that would not be complete without a major emphasis on courting and engaging Black voters.
The first rule of politics, she explained during a roundtable discussion with reporters, is to never forget your base. “You dance with the one that brung ya. We are making sure that when it comes to African-American outreach that it is a very high priority in this campaign,” she said.
While it’s nice to not be taken for granted, African-American support is not really an issue, according to recent polls, but whether some people will actually be able to actually vote is. Citing new laws enacted or being considered in states around the nation that civil rights advocates predict could disenfranchise millions of African-American voters in 2012, Wasserman Schultz said that the DNC is “aggressively focused” on fighting voter suppression efforts, which she described as “offensive” and “insidiously designed.”
The party plans in the next few weeks to deploy lawyers who will work full time to address problems voters may face due to new voting rules, particularly in key battleground states. It also will deploy individuals whose duty it will be to ensure that voters are aware of any new laws as well as their rights, and help them get what they need to vote, said DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard.
“We are all over this,” he added.
Other get-out-the-vote efforts include the Greater Together initiative launched last week at historically Black colleges and universities, which the Obama campaign hopes will produce thousands of volunteers. According to Gaspard, more than 1,000 students attended its event at Clark Atlanta University, many of whom pledged to knock on doors and register voters.
“This is key in states like Georgia, with 420,000 eligible African-Americans who aren’t yet registered to vote. You can see the real raw potential of animating young folks on HBCU campuses,” he said.
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(Photo: EPA/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/Landov)