Insight News

Feb 08th

Sharpton closer to presidential campaign

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WASHINGTON (NNPA)—The Rev. Al Sharpton says the defeats that many Democrats suffered on Election Day expose the party’s flawed campaign strategy and proves that it must move in another direction..... WASHINGTON (NNPA)—The Rev. Al Sharpton says the defeats that many Democrats suffered on Election Day expose the party’s flawed campaign strategy and proves that it must move in another direction in order to win elections.

“When you do an analysis of how the Democrats lost, they lost because they ran away from their base,” says Sharpton, who is exploring a possible run for president. “This whole decade-long reach for the Right-wing, or what they now call the independent White male vote, has been a hallucination. It energizes and makes my campaign more necessary.”

Sharpton has formed an exploratory committee and has begun raising money, but says he will not announce his decision until early next year. Some political analysts believe that he will not likely win the Democratic nomination, but could help the party revive its message to grassroots people and excite African Americans to the polls if he decides to run as a Democrat. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was able to do that in his presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988.

“If Sharpton is able to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s leadership and the confusion in the message and so forth, then that enhances what he’s trying to do because he believes the Democratic Leadership Council has taken the party to the right,” says University of Maryland political scientist Ron Walters, a former adviser for Jackson’s presidential bids. “He believes if he runs, he will pull the party back to the Left. This presents Al Sharpton with a golden opportunity to mount a campaign of political leverage inside the party, the same thing Jesse did.”

Sharpton says his issues will distinguish him from other Democrats.

Although a recent survey by the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies says only 6 percent of African Americans see the possibility of war against Iraq as a key concern, Sharpton says it will be a distinguishing issue for him.

“We’ll be the ones on the front line. Who will die first? And then when oil comes in, who will get less than us? And, who are in the major cities that are targeted in this war on terrorism? So war is a vital issue,” he says. “And I’m the only one talking about running who has come out against the war.”

Several Democrats who have been mentioned as possible presidential contenders voted with Bush to authorize the war, including Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt.

Sharpton also said he will focus on those issues that are most important to Black people, such as jobs and the economy.

Ron Daniels, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and chairman of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, agrees Sharpton’s position on issues will be key.

“The Sharpton campaign becomes one of our most important vehicles for changing the Democratic party to have a focus and a message that will resonate with the majority of people in America, the struggling middle class, large numbers of people who are not registered and who don’t vote simply because they don’t hear themselves being talked to about issues like jobs and income and affirmative action and urban policy,” Daniels says. “He’s not trying to center himself, he will wage a crusading campaign…. He’s a dynamic spokesperson and he will elevate and put on the agenda issues that will not be discussed by the Democratic Party unless he runs.”

Not everyone agrees.

“I really want to say that Al is on to something there. But will the Democrats listen to him? I doubt it,” says Linda Faye Williams, also a political science professor at the University of Maryland. “The problem with Democrats is that they don’t appeal to the Black vote because they are more frightened of losing the White vote. That’s the bottom line. We’re sort of a date that you’re so proud of, yet you go

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