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Est. April 5, 2002
May 21, 2020 - Issue 819
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Abrams, Obama, Practice, Politics

"The Democrats again appear fixated on competency
and the wrongheaded belief that the public is fed up
with Trump’s boorish and dictatorial behavior, the
same na´ve view that led Hillary to defeat in 2016. 
They again refuse to believe that Trump is a formidable
rival, and that he will do anything to prevail."


  • Trump has continued to mismanage and shun responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic without suffering major political consequences. He leads Biden in polls on who is best to manage the economy and in approval rating by nearly double digits.

  • Daily distractions and lies are major components of the Trump campaign, e.g.: “I am taking hydroxychloroquine,” Obamagate, mass firings of the federal government’s Inspector Generals, the recent firing of the U.S. Postmaster, etc. These strategies are designed to focus the media on issues that Trump deems important, and they are working.

  • Trump’s Attorney General Stooge, Bill Barr, is having a hard time keeping up with his boss’s extralegal and political demands--the withdrawal of Gen. Michael Flynn’s guilty plea, investigations of Obama and Biden and their administration’s officials, indictments of FBI officials and an investigation of the department. Barr is trying to hold on to his reputation.

  • Despite Trump’s aforementioned miscues, Biden has been unable to capitalize on them in a significant way. Although he leads Trump in the polls in several battleground states, most leads are not outside the margin of error.

  • If not for the coronavirus epidemic, it is likely that Trump would have already run away with this race.

As Biden’s decision on his female choice for vice president nears its conclusion, Stacey Abrams is being heavily criticized for not having enough political experience to assume that role. In essence, she is being questioned in the same way as was NBA Hall of Famer, Allen Iverson, in the 1990s for missing practice, and Barack Obama during his first presidential run.

Then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was negatively critiqued in 2007 when he announced his run for the presidency. Interestingly, some of his most ardent opponents were his fellow African American politicians. Of the 42 black members of the House at that time, 17 were behind Obama, 16 were with Clinton, two were with Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), and seven remained uncommitted. They all stated or implied that he lacked the necessary experience—that he didn’t have enough political practice.

His opponent Hillary Clinton’s most vocal black supporters were Reps John Lewis (D-GA), Charley Rangel (D-NY), and former National Urban League President, D.C. powerbroker, and longtime Bill Clinton backer Vernon Jordan. Civil rights leader and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young said that Obama was too “young and unseasoned” and that “… Bill (Clinton) is every bit as black as Barack (Obama).”

One of the most exacting, subtle attacks on Obama occurred during his April 2007 appearance before the National Association of Black Journalists in Chicago. He was grilled in more than a dozen ways over an hour as to whether he was ‘black enough’ to represent the African American community. This was due in part due to his having a white mother and private school and Ivy League educations.

Abrams is currently being subjected to similar appraisals, with the exception of whether she is black enough. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) has called Abram’s public efforts to become Biden’s vice presidential pick to be a political hustle that he finds offensive. But Clay sees no problem with his having ascended to his Congressional seat because his father William Clay Sr. handed it off to him after holding it for 20 years.

Hopefully, Biden and his key advisors are not persuaded by Abrams’s black adversaries from seriously considering her to join his ticket. He needs a sober assessment of the contemporary politics surrounding his candidacy.

First, he needs to understand that irrespective of national polls, his campaign is currently in disarray. His virtual outreach to his supporters has been dogged by video glitches, and his digital operation is still a promissory note. For the past two months, Biden’s campaign team has repeatedly stated that it is on its way to being up and running.

He has also been inconsistent in responding to Trump’s ongoing lies and missteps during the COVID-19 disaster, and he appears to lack a war room with a rapid response capability. Biden is still hiring essential staff to run an election that is now less than 180 days away. Meanwhile, Trump is in full campaign stride and has stockpiled a number of negative ads to throw at Biden—attacking him personally, his son Hunter, and other family members.

The Biden campaign’s Latinx outreach remains in the planning process to the consternation of Latinx politicians and grassroots leaders. If Biden is to have any chance of carrying Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, an historic turnout of Latinx, African American, and other minority voters will be essential. Biden’s get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation in those states is also seriously lacking.

An enduring distress point is the overall lack of enthusiasm (56 percent) for Biden within his Democratic base as compared to the prodigious enthusiasm (80 percent) for Trump within his Republican base. Biden’s lead among women is also shrinking. And nearly 80 percent of Independents believe Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against him—which places him at a disadvantage with that voting demographic.

All of the above challenges call for Biden to have a vice presidential partner who can actually help turn out a cross-section of voters in the battleground states, one who already has connections and a track record. Of the four leading contenders to get the nod, according to a national poll of registered Democratic voters, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Stacey Abrams (D-GA), only Abrams has the background and record to deliver.

Harris was not viable in her home state during the presidential primary; Klobuchar lacks name recognition on the national stage; and Warren could not win her own state in the primary, and the public tired of her numerous plans. Furthermore, Abrams won more Democratic votes in a gubernatorial election than any Democrat in the history of Georgia.

Other than Abrams, not one of the other three can motivate African American, Latinx, Asian, and Native American voters to turn out at any level approaching Obama-type numbers. She already has an active ground game in the 18 battlefield states which will decide the election. Her Fair Fight and Fair Count organizations, designed to promote voting rights and voter equity, will be important components of a successful Biden presidential race. Choosing her would not endanger the Democrats’ efforts to win back the Senate.

He is in dire need of a black female running partner who can help turn out the black female and overall black vote if he is to triumph on November 3rd. Biden cannot win without one, and the only black woman who can help him do that is Stacey Abrams.

The Democrats again appear fixated on competency and the wrongheaded belief that the public is fed up with Trump’s boorish and dictatorial behavior, the same na´ve view that led Hillary to defeat in 2016. They again refuse to believe that Trump is a formidable rival, and that he will do anything to prevail.

Democrats are not prepared for the depths that he will go to beat them.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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