Clyburn: Would Clinton Get Only 8 Percent Of the Black Vote?


In an interview with National Journal's Linda Douglas, Rep. James Clyburn gives the corollary to the argument that Barack Obama faces a deficit with white working class males.

Douglass: Well, just one more question on that subject... She was quoted today in USA Today describing her strengths against his weaknesses, and she said about herself -- quoting from a news article, she was talking about a news article -- but Senator Clinton said the following: that "Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again," and "whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me." "There is a pattern emerging here," she said. What's your reaction to that quote?

Clyburn: Well, I don't think that carries any more weight than anyone who will argue that the fact that she only got 8 percent of the African-American vote in North Carolina indicates that she cannot get African-American votes in the general election. It's one thing for us to measure these two Democratic candidates against each other. It is totally something else again for us to measure a Democratic candidate against a Republican candidate. Those are two different things -- apples and oranges -- and I do believe it is a stretch for us to consider otherwise. If we buy into that, and we buy into the conventional wisdom that no Democrat wins the presidency getting only 8 percent of the African-American vote, then what does that to say for her prospects in the fall?

Later, he explains why he's neutral, sounding very non-neutral and very much of a mind to believe that if the "graybeards" -- the superdelegates -- take the nomination away from Barack Obama, there'll be consequences.

. I'm very proud of what Barack Obama's done. When I sat in those jails back in the '60s in South Carolina -- dreaming about growing up, dreaming about becoming an adult, dreaming about having children and grandchildren -- I now have a 14-year-old grandson, and he is very proud of Barack Obama. I'm not going to sit down and watch anybody marginalize my grandson's dreams and aspirations. And I'm not going to see anybody go out and just absolutely nullify the energy and time that my daughter, youngest daughter, put into Barack Obama's race. This young lady started going to his office at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, every day after work, staying there to 11, 12 o'clock at night, and apologized to me for having to follow her heart for fear that it might disrupt my neutrality.

So when I look at this daughter of mine, I look at this grandson of mine, and see the pride in their faces -- I'm just not going to have anybody just tamping that down, and so that's why I spoke up. Because I'm going home on weekends, and I go to these college campuses, as I will be this weekend -- I'm going to Voorhees [College] and do the commencement there, I'm going to Tuskegee in Alabama and do commencement there on Sunday -- these young people are looking at me, saying, are you graybeards in this party getting ready to go into some room somewhere and nullify everything we did in this campaign?
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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