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George E. Curry, Keynote Speaker
Published: 16 January 2008

After Hillary Clinton fell off of her white horse with a third-place finish in Iowa and by barely edging Barack Obama in New Hampshire despite a 17-point lead just two weeks before the election, "Billary" Clinton are playing the race card by unfairly accusing Obama of injecting race into the presidential contest.
Billary — Bill and Hillary – have forcefully attacked Obama after his victory in Iowa, a state that is 94.6 percent White and New Hampshire, with a population that is 95.8 percent White. Heading into the South Carolina primary, they accuse him of playing the race card by exploiting an insensitive remark Hillary uttered about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In an interview, the former First Lady said, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 … It took a president to get it done."
Bill Clinton attempted to engage in damage control by calling Black radio talk shows, including one hosted by Al Sharpton, to contend that his wife's comments were taken out of context. Hillary, in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," said, "This is an unfortunate story line that the Obama campaign has pushed very successfully. I don't think this campaign is about gender, and I sure hope it's not about race."
A White presidential contender, John Edwards, also criticized Hillary.
"I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, but through a Washington politician. I fundamentally disagree with that," the former senator from North Carolina said at a Baptist church in Sumter, S.C.
Because he disagreed with Hillary, does that mean that somehow Edwards also injected race into the campaign?
The New York Times obviously doesn't think so. In an editorial, the newspaper said Hillary "Came Perilously Close to Injecting Racial Tension" into the contest. It stated, "Why Mrs. Clinton would compare herself to Mr. Johnson, who escalated the war in Vietnam into a generational disaster, was baffling enough. It was hard to escape the distasteful implication that a Black man needed the help of a white man to effect change."
Hillary Clinton understated the contributions of Dr. King and now she and her high-profile surrogates are trying to blame Obama for her mistake. The candidate has dismissed Hillary's accusation as "ludicrous."
Bill Clinton didn't make matters better by referring to Obama in "fairy tale" terms. He would later declare that he was referencing Obama's position on the war in Iraq. But Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife, doesn't see it that way.
In a visit to the state in November, she made it clear that in contrast to Hillary Clinton's upper class background, her husband has lived anything but a fairy tale life.
"Dream of a president who was raised like Barack was by a single mom who had to work and go to school and raise her kids and accept food stamps once in a while," she said. "Imagine a president who knows what that's like."
It is no accident that as we move closer to Feb. 5, when voters in 22 states will cast their ballots in primaries and caucuses, that the Black vote will take center stage in the Democratic contests.
According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Blacks make up 56 percent of the Democratic electorate in Mississippi, 47 percent in South Carolina and Georgia, 35 percent in Maryland, 33 percent in Virginia, 23 percent in Tennessee, 20 percent in New York, 15 percent in Missouri and 14 percent in Ohio.
In fact, with its Jan. 26 voting, South Carolina becomes the first state to showcase the Black vote and an Obama victory there would force Clinton to have a strong showing on Super Tuesday or fold her tent. That's why she's racing to play the race card.
If the polls are accurate – and after New Hampshire, no one can count on that anymore –Hillary Clinton might be headed for a loss in South Carolina.
A poll released Sunday by the Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, N.C. shows Obama holding a 42-37 lead over Clinton among likely Democratic voters, followed by South Carolina-born Edwards with 16 percent. In a key finding, Obama has overtaken Clinton among Black voters and now holds a 68 percent to 19 percent lead, with Edwards getting only 4 percent.
Hillary Clinton can only beat Obama is if she can persuade Democratic voters that he is unelectable or somehow she is more deserving because of her last name. At the ballot box, Obama is dispelling both myths and it is therefore no wonder that Hillary Clinton is having to play the race card and have her husband pretend he is running for a third term.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach.

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