February 5th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
10 years ago

An historic day at an historic location

NEW YORK (CNN) - Voters at a Harlem elementary school named after trailblazing black Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. say they face an agonizing decision whether to vote for another African-American trailblazer.

“It’s a tough choice,” declared Charles Townsend, a 50-year-old professor at City College. “It’s an embarrassment to have to choose between the two.”

“I love Hillary Clinton,” said 75-year-old Georgia Brown after she pulled the level for Obama. “She’s already been President,” cracked Brown. “Time for change.”

Consider: Harlem is normally Clinton Country. Voters here twice elected Hillary Clinton to the Senate by overwhelming margins. Former President Bill Clinton remains hugely popular; his Harlem office is only a mile away from the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. School. And, Harlem’s Democratic political establishment led by Rep. Charles Rangel (who defeated Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1970) is backing Hillary Clinton.

But Barack Obama has huge appeal here.

“Hillary has better ideas. I love Bill Clinton,” said Margret Segura. Even so, the retired Harlem resident said she voted for Obama.

Obama’s call for change resonates with some voters here, young and old. Charles McKnight, 82, says he voted for Obama because “I’m tired of the system. I’m looking for something new.”

The decision was so difficult for some Harlem residents that they made up their minds in the voting booth.

“I struggled,” conceded Michael Jones, a hospital employee, before he voted for Hillary Clinton.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of New York State voters, conducted January 30-February 3 had Clinton leading Obama 53 percent to 39 percent, a narrowing of her advantage.

Sen. Clinton is widely expected to win her state. But under Democratic primary rules, which split delegates according to percentage of votes, Barack Obama is likely to pick up a share of the state’s 281 delegates, in Clinton strongholds like Harlem.

- CNN's Alan Chernoff

soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Paul GA

    This says it all. “Hillary has better ideas. I love Bill Clinton,” said Margret Segura. Even so, the retired Harlem resident said she voted for Obama.

    Race will trump knowledge and gender....SAD SAD, DEM will go down to the Republican with this additute and poor judgement.

    February 5, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Rob

    @ A Texan,
    What are you trying to say with your post? Give us examples of how Obama will OBEY the Constitution and other candidates will not. How exactly did he predict the troubles in Iraq, he opposed it yes. We have all been made aware of that many times, but predict the current situation, I think not. Yes he is a U.S. Senator but a very junior one one. What specific experaince does he have in foreign affairs, or military issues? Lets make this blog a place for dicussions not a listing of someones resume bullet points.

    February 5, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. kamenwati

    A vote for Clinton is a vote for a return to the gridlock of the nineties. The Clinton's had eight years. It's time to move on with new leadership. Vote Obama!

    February 5, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. sara

    Obama I worship you! Oh blessed Obama I want your baby! Aaaahhhhh I go wild for you!

    February 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    I agree with the lady who said "Hillary has already been President" for 8 years.

    Term limits should apply to the couple, not just the individual.

    February 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Yola

    Go Hillary go – At least we know her – I am afraid to say more otherwise they will......

    February 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. abie

    Hi all, I am a avid Hillary fan, BUT, if she does not win, :-(, I would vote for Obama. We must make this a democratic President and change the ways of this country.

    February 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. BobW Rochester, NY

    When it comes to Hillary, I keep thinking about that old Wendy's commercial, "Where's the beef?" She and her supporters tout her experience but what experience are they talking about? She talks the talk but has never walked the walk unless you count working as a corporate lawyer, being first lady of Arkansas and then the president's wife. Obama has had 14 years in the Ill. senate and 3 years in the US senate to Hillary's 7 years in the US senate. Hillary is an accomplished policy wonk who has done some great things for kids but failed her constituents in NY. As part of her valuable experience, she has not pushed through any legislation to save NY jobs, lower our cost of health care and education or to stop our young men and women from going to the war she voted for.

    I think I'll support the rookie.

    VOTE Obama!

    February 5, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. GA

    No education here...prue stupid.
    This says it all
    “Hillary has better ideas. I love Bill Clinton,” said Margret Segura. Even so, the retired Harlem resident said she voted for Obama.

    February 5, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. Eye Opener - Las Vegas

    While it is great that the choice democratic voters have is between two very viable candidates, it is quite alarming that people are voting with their heart and not their heads. Call it what you will but this is scary.
    At this very critical time in our country's history where we are faced with major crises from the war in Iraq to the economy, from healthcare to the mortgage meltdown and a looming recession, the american voter really needs to think hard and make that difficult choice.
    While I have heard Senator Obama and his platform, I have not heard anything specific to address the issues at hand. Yes, he can bring people together but sometimes, a true leader can only bring about real change with unquestionable experience, the ability to make tough decisions, withstand criticism and still keep focused on the issues for our greater good.
    Senator Clinton is that person. Her detractors call her so many things but they lose sight or are refusing to recognize the fact that she has done more than Senator Obama in areas of healthcare, education, defense and economics.
    Personalities aside, she is the most capable candidate to lead us out of this mess we are in right now.

    February 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. Jay

    There's plenty of information on Obama's accomplishments and plans for our country – just because "all you hear is change" does not mean that this is all there is. And I personally know two women that have confided in me that they are voting for Hillary because of the historical significance of voting for a woman, so let's not get into that either.

    Lynn in St. Louis is right, supporters of Obama and Clinton need to stop slinging so much mud at each other because they will need each other in November. We need to keep our eyes on the big picture, folks.

    February 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. GOBAMA 08

    I will vote for OBAMA but if he does not get the DEM NOM. than i will be very pleased to have HIllary as the DEM NOM. ANYTHING, ANYTHING, ANYTHING BUT ANOTHER G.W.BUSH IN OFFICE AND THAT IS ALL THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TO OFFER!!!

    GOBAMA 08

    February 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Shon

    Hillary will be the first man president we've all been waiting for.

    February 5, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. Dennis

    I knew I'd find someone that would spout off some nonsense that Obama only has a slogan and no ideas on the page "unlike Hillary." The only thing most people know about Hillary is that she has a health plan. Most couldn't tell you what that health plan is. Most couldn't tell you where she stands on other issues. Oh, and Hillary has allies? Really? Where are they? I haven't seen any of them come out and give her an endorsement lately. Hillary is no more qualified to be President, despite her "35 years of experience," than Obama.

    February 5, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Samantha

    @ Mark Cross Junction VA

    Well how many people do you think are voting against Obama just because of the color of his skin???? PLENTY!!!

    Some of the viciousness you see written on these pages about him can only be explained that way.

    Seeing as he's done nothing to deserve such vile, nasty, vicious attacks from 'so-called democrats', it's obvious why they respond the way they do.

    If you don't like him fine. But to hate him???

    There is obviously a lot more going on inside their sad sick heads.

    February 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Mati

    Anonymous February 5, 2008 3:34 pm ET
    I agree with the lady who said "Hillary has already been President" for 8 years.
    Term limits should apply to the couple, not just the individual."

    How American is this stupid comment? This is a country in which each individual matters.

    The Harlem vote shows again that the race card is widely open for Obama. Shame on voters.

    Think before you vote!

    February 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Josh Smith

    I'm an Independent, but I have been watching everyone closely. Here are some observations:

    Sen. Hillary Clinton says she is for more transparency in government, more accountability, and states that she is campaigning on her record. Just a thought, but why then is every shred of what she did as First Lady locked up in the archives in the Clinton Presidential Library? And why is no one talking about this? Everything she said or did while she was living in the White House for eight years cannot be accessed, and she is using words like "transparency", "accountability", and the phrase "look at my record". Please, Senator Clinton, I would love to look at your record, BUT YOU WON"T LET ME. Also, I'm terribly frightened that Sen. Clinton is going to abandon the costly gains we've made in Iraq. Let's please not have to go back to that place a third time.

    On the flipside, I don't precisely know if Americans are ready to witness the inaguration of Barak Mohammed Hussein Obama. I'm good with it, but I fear that as Election Day nears, the question "what's in a name" could be asked. Concordantly, change just for the sake of change is NOT a good thing. Unemployment at 5% and growth at 3% is not weak. The housing sector needs help, yes, but the economy is fine, and one could argue that the government should not be in the business of propping it up at taxpayer expense. There are other things for which my tax dollars should be used, as opposed to spending them to battle the natural economic cycle of expansion and correction. Want to give me my money back? Yeah, that makes sense. Why not just not take it from me in the first place?

    February 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. warrior dowager

    In decidint how to vote, the people of Harlem should recall these words
    from MLK:

    It is not the color of his skin but the content of her character.

    February 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  19. Harlem Resident

    If Hillary can't win Harlem where she typically has a strong backing its because many residents of the neighborhood don't look at the facts and only look at the color of the skin. I unfortunately know all-too-well about the voting problem in Harlem, I live there. and know first-hand that many voters in that neighborhood are only voting based on race.

    Ignorance always seems to trump all else.

    Either way, I just wish people would stop looking at the color of ones skin or what is under someones clothes and vote based on experience, fact, and who you feel will lead the nation in the right direction.

    February 5, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. Nancy TC

    Wow...the Obama supporters are really obnoxious.


    Get real people; do you really think he will be in charge if he gets this job?

    NO. Kennedy and Kerry will finally have their chance. I saw them the other day picking out curtains for the Oval Office.

    Come on wake up....

    February 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. tomdavie

    Here we have it folks.

    The first Obama SPIN of the day.

    Yee haw. Cmon folks who HAVENT VOTED YET .

    Read this article and VOTE FOR OBAMA



    I will NEVER vote for a candidate that the media is trying to HYPE into the white house.

    Hillary or Mc Cain in 08

    February 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. Marissa

    People say they are motivated by Obama's speeches. Yes I have heard him get fired up a few times, but overall I do not even think he is that good of a speaker. Hillary is the one who can bring changes to America. Listen to her replay of her Town Hall Interactive Meeting last night. She has real plans. Obama talks about change but I haven't really heard him outline any real plans. Obama would make a good VP for starters.

    Hillary '08

    February 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. Can I EVER get posted?!

    Charlotte- great point about Obama never having town hall meetings and ask/answer rallies!! I completely agree. I wish that this point was brought up sooner, because it is an excellent point! Obama does not seem to do well in debates and one-on-one. He would have difficulties debating against the GOP candidate...

    February 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. Smile

    For A Texan....no matter how many times you post the truth about the man some will never like him BUT I"m 100% in support of him. I really don't feel like going back to the days of all that drama the Clintons had around them.

    February 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. Mike From sunny Florida

    Let's face it folks.

    The decision to vote for Hillary or Obama, regardless of race or gender, was and is still a very difficult one to make. Both, in their own ways, are qualified to be in office.

    Here is how I made my decision. Basically, the world hates us. No No, really they do and hate is putting it mildly and kindly.

    Yes, we have tons of domestic problems like the economy; but unless you have been living under a rock for the last part of the century, our economy is tied to the world market which in turn is tied to world events and political strife.

    So we need someone who can come in with a fresh take on foreign policy but also who is not afraid to use our military when it is absolutely needed to insure the stability of the world (which is different then creating instability when settling old scores)

    That's why I voted for Hillary. And on the flip side, that's why Obama needs to be VP. While the Hill is out there fixing the world, Obama can be at home laying the ground work on domesitc issues.

    Call it Strong Points Tag Teaming.

    Then in 8 years when our country is back on-track, then Please Please by all means, vote Obama in to be President.

    February 5, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
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