July 23rd, 2007
08:12 PM ET
7 years ago

How black is Obama?

(CNN) - Standing in South Carolina, where Democratic African-American voters may have the most influence on next year's presidential primaries, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, faced a blunt question of race: how does he respond to African-Americans who say he is not black enough?

Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and Caucasian mother, shook his head as the question was still coming across a video screen at Monday's Democratic candidate forum. He smiled and sparked laughter throughout the Charleston, South Carolina auditorium.

"When I'm catching a cab in Manhattan," Obama replied, "I have... my credentials." More laughter broke out as the senator's remarks trailed off and he segued into a broader stump answer.

"Race permeates society," he said, "and I do believe in the core decency of the American people."

South Carolina has a pivotal early primary, the first in the south and one of the most influential for African-Americans. But Obama has yet to win the black vote in the state. A CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted in the state last week showed Hillary Clinton with a massive 16-point lead over Obama among African-American Democrats likely to vote in the primary.

- CNN Radio's Lisa Goddard

Filed under: CNN/YouTube Debate
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois

    Honestly I think this question is one that the American people are asking themselves. The African American voters, that I have spoken to, think that Obama doesn't campaign on enough or relate to enough "black issues". However, I think that race, ethnicity, and gender should not be a deciding factor in this election. We are the United States of America, we are the "home of the free and the brave", we are about freedom and equality for everyone, and if we allow issues like gender or race or ethnicity come into play during the election we are going against the very principles that our country was established on.

    July 23, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  2. Lilliane Coldwell, Atlanta, Georgia

    Race, ethnic background, gender and sexual orientation have no place in this political debate. People are people and how we look and how we act make us all individuals. This world will be much better off when we all stop looking at what people look like and find out who they are by looking into their hearts and into their heads. Black, white, yellow, red, olive it does not matter. We are all people, none of us any better than the other.

    July 23, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  3. Will - Miami, Fl

    He's black. Big deal. Why don't we try asking (and answering) some important questions. For example: Why do you want to remove troops from Iraq just to put them into Darfur under the command of NON-American leaders?

    July 23, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Woody Engle

    Republican Presidential Candidate Dr. Ron Paul, M.D. welcomes all men and women who are seekers of freedom and liberty. The only "race" that matters to Ron Paul supporters is the "Human Race".

    An example of this can be found in what his supporters did for children in Spartanburg South Carolina this week end. Click on the link and find out what really matters!


    July 23, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  5. Mr. Castaneda, Santa Barbara, CA

    I am very involved in independent media, as a director and producer. I would like that mention that CNN, is in my opinion, favoring John Edwards in it's reporting of this youtube debate. How you ask?...in the way the CNN production team is covering M. Edwards(in the way the camera angles are used, etc.) in comparison to Sen. Obama. Even beyond this debate, CNN frequently has articles on Sen. Obama that don't work on it's website, or load very,very slow.

    During the break of the youtube debate it started by playing a Sen. Obama clip and guess what? No audio. This has been a consistant problem with CNN for awhile. I thought at first it was a coincidence, but not anymore.

    Furthermore, there is always a distracting shake in the camera when it focuses on Sen Obama. Media savy producers can tell you that close ups make you more personal and you feel "closer" to the person. Pay attention to the angles on Mr. Edwards, commanding angles, extreme closeups. Any closeups on Sen. Obama? Hardly. Also the camera doesn't show him as he begins speaking but starts midway of his sentence. Producers can tell you that takes away and distracts what he's saying.

    It has become very clear that Producers at CNN want to mitigate the effect Sen. Obama's charisma and speaking ability has on voters. I am very disappointed at the way questions are being directed and who gets what questions. This is not the way youtube videos are supposed to be used.

    Why does everytime Sen Obama makes a point does the camera pull away to a wide angle shot including Sen Edwards. This isn't being done to other candidates. I challenge CNN to be impartial, give other candidates hard questions, don't manipulate viewers with camera angles, cut off heads, etc. We are becoming more media savy and are watching closer, not just what's said by candidates but how you present it. Thank you.

    July 23, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Jack, Durham, NC

    And when's the last time that Obama had to catch a cab anywhere, exactly?

    July 23, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |