PICKET: Sharpton on Obama in '07 - 'He never came off as a fighter'

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Before Rev. Sharpton eventually supported Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, he was taking pot shots at the future president himself. Reverend Al Sharpton attacked Congressional Black Caucus Members Reps. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, and Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat and CBC chairman, on Wednesday for their criticism of President Barack Obama recently. Rev. Sharpton said both lawmakers were originally Hillary Clinton supporters in 2008, so it should not be surprising that both made callous remarks towards the president.

“I think there’s a lot of discontent because of unemployment. I think that the media has been irresponsible in saying that the president has lost support without saying that these people never supported him. The people that you were referring to supported Hillary against him.” he told reporters.  “How could he be losing people he never had? So I don’t think it’s cracks (within the foundation). I think it’s the same people that told people in ‘08 ‘don’t vote for him.’ And the community went and overwhelmingly voted for him anyway.”

 A 2007 New York Magazine article described both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns vying for the endorsement of Rev. Sharpton. It appears Obama secured Sharpton’s endorsement only after his wife Michelle stepped in and demanded that Sharpton get behind her husband’s campaign. Before that, though, the reverend had some interesting reservations about Obama, one of which CBC members seem to be talking about today…his lack of wanting to fight: (bolding is mine)

AROUND THIS TIME last year, it was a good bet that Sharpton would endorse Hillary Clinton. Within Hillary’s vast campaign, insiders thought Sharpton would be recruited as a priceless tabloid mercenary who could launch broadsides against Obama on that one taboo issue where he is vulnerable: his blackness. (“Ain’t too many of us grew up in Hawaii and went to Harvard,” Sharpton says.) Last January, Sharpton had a closed-door meeting with Bill Clinton at the former president’s Harlem offices. Afterward, Clinton’s staff came away with the impression that they had already secured Sharpton’s endorsement. When Sharpton’s people found out about this, they rushed to back away. No, they told Clinton’s staff, Sharpton had not promised Bill his endorsement of Hillary. Sharpton’s explanation? “Politicians hear what they want to hear. They think a cordial meeting is the same as ‘I want to support you.’”

Until recently, Sharpton’s relationship with Obama has been more aloof. Sharpton has also been underwhelmed by Obama’s campaign. “He never came off as a fighter,” he says, a strategy that he thinks has hurt Obama with a key demographic: black women. “Black women like a fighter. Even if you’re fighting a fight that is not my fight, I will believe that you might fight my fight And to come off as ‘I’m all right with everybody’ doesn’t give people who want a fight a comfort level. I want somebody who’s at least a little upset with somebody, because I’m mad as hell. If you’re not mad, how do I get passionate about you?”

Sharpton thinks Obama should take more cues from his wife, Michelle. He still thinks about the time he bumped into her at a recent Chicago fund-raiser. He claims the conversation went like this.

“How you doing, Mrs. Obama?”

She’s tall, and looked down at him. “I’d do a lot better if we had your endorsement.”
Sharpton tried to play dumb. “What do you mean?”

“We need your endorsement. I’m just telling you straight out: We need your endorsement. What are you going to do?”

Sharpton didn’t know what to say. “I’m like, ‘Uh, well, duh.’ I mean, she was like a sister back in Brownsville, where I grew up!”

Apparently, Sharpton saw Obama lacked a backbone in 2007 and maybe he believed that Michele would be his backbone for him, when Mr. Obama went to the White House. That’s apparently not enough for a number of Democrats.

 

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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