Clinton addressed the NABJ Thursday.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – “Are you black enough?” was the question put to Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton during a panel discussion sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Presidential Forum Thursday.
The question was initially raised by Les Payne, the retired Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Newsday, in regard to whether Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, was “black enough” – a question the African-American White House hopeful has often been asked. So when it came time to open up the Q&A session with Sen. Clinton, the moderator, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, lead with the question, eliciting laughter – including that from the Senator – and some applause from the audience.
Specifically, Malveaux asked: “Are you black enough to sustain the kind of support that you got from your husband, and what makes you the better candidate over a black man in representing the issues regarding African-American community?”
“I want to represent all of America. I want to be a president for everyone. I am tired of all these false divisions,” Clinton told the crowd. “I have to earn everyone’s vote and nobody should expect that I take you for granted.”
Clinton went on to say, “I’m going to be very eagerly courting your votes, looking for ways that we can work together, and as I said in my opening remarks, putting forth an agenda as president that I cannot accomplish without a broad base of support.”
Before the Q&A, Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke for eight minutes, and in her opening remarks, she said it was time for America to have a national conversation about the plight of 1.4 million men of color who are in the nation's prison system.
"That's the conversation that I want to have," she said. "It's a conversation that I believe in."
Sen. Barack Obama, who will address the audience tomorrow, has said previously that this is a national crisis that needs to be addressed.
Clinton didn’t take long to connect with her audience.
Recognizing the two female candidates running for president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Clinton referred directly to them, saying, “However this election turns out, Madam President has a wonderful ring to it." Barbara Ciara, managing editor and anchor at WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia, and Cheryl Smith, executive editor at the Dallas Weekly in Texas, are running for the position.
In an effort to connect with her audience, Clinton also took a moment to recognize the late author James Baldwin, and the death of Chauncey Bailey, the Oakland Post editor who was gunned down last week, allegedly by followers of a group he was investigating.
- CNN contributor Roland Martin