Wednesday, April 25, 2007

African-American power brokers in New York are shifting their support away from Hillary Clinton and towards Barack Obama

Toby Harnden:

Mrs Clinton, 59, had already secured the tacit support of most of the black politicians in New York, her home state. But the fact that many of them are now wavering indicates the potential for Mr Obama, 45, to secure a clear majority of black voters, a mainstay of the Democratic party.

Mr Obama has joked about Mrs Clinton's attempts to stop the black vote shifting to him as he attempts to become America's first black president. When the mobile phone of the Rev Al Sharpton, one of the most prominent black US politicians, buzzed during a joint appearance last week, Mr Obama joked: "Is that Hillary calling?"

According to The New York Times, a "significant number" of black officials who had been seen as firmly in the Clinton camp have said they are now "undecided" because they are "impressed with the strength of Mr Obama's campaign in recent weeks".

This shift has occurred despite Mr Obama doing almost no campaigning in New York. It is significant because key black politicians hold considerable influence over ordinary black voters.

Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, a leading figure in Harlem, told The New York Times: "I would have supported Hillary if it were not for Barack Obama. He can identify with my African-American community in a way that no other candidate can."

The prospect of Mrs Clinton becoming the inevitable Democratic nominee evaporated when Mr Obama recently announced a stunning fund-raising total of $25 million (£12.5 million) for the first quarter of the year.

She is increasingly using husband Bill, a former president beloved by blacks, as a surrogate campaigner to stop black support ebbing away.

Obama’s Rise Strains Loyalty on Clinton Turf

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