February 23rd, 2008
08:45 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama takes heat for skipping State of the Black Union

 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in New Orleans on February 7.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in New Orleans on February 7.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) - The annual State of the Black Union forum boasts a number of famous names as it gets under way in New Orleans, but this year's event is getting much more attention for who won't be there.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, was the only major presidential candidate to accept an invitation to attend.

Her rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, declined, as did Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Full story

Watch: CNN's Sean Callebs looks at the State of the Black Union, a gathering in New Orleans.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Virginia

    Obama needs to stay away from these rabble rousers like Sharpton and Jackson. Cozying up to them would lose a lot of white votes. Call it any way you want to, it is true.

    February 23, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Nader Nader!

    He can't be bought!

    He's intelligent!

    Walmart, Wars, and Lobbyists beware!

    Nader is coming!

    America embrace!

    Nader, Nader!

    February 23, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. Alice

    Guess Obama is an Oreole cookie – LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!

    Black on the outside – when it suits him

    But he has a white filling that just HAS to appeal to the male vote and the white female vote

    Gee, and he hates his mama's race – it's in his book 🙂

    February 23, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Charlotte

    Here's your pay back New Orleans. Did you all vote for Obama. He don't need you now. If he is the nominee you'll see him in November when he needs YOU again.

    February 23, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. LifeLongDemocrat

    Hillary and Bill have always been there for the black community. Obama just wants their vote tofulfill his ultimate ambition.

    February 23, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Lisa

    Ahh, the Teflon candidate. When he does something wrong and gets criticized his criticizers get death threats...

    February 23, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Patrick Anthony Drake

    This is only my opinion, but I think Mr. Obama is making history in uniting the Black Union. I think our Presidential candidates are now at work trying to unite a nation.

    February 23, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. mike

    about time people hold him accountable.

    February 23, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Sean

    Tavis Smiley should calm down. It should be understandable that Obama is running for the Presidency right now and he would not have time to make it to this forum. Of course Hillary will come because, at this point, she is desparate to get whatever black votes she can. But Obama is still in a fierce battle to beat the biggest political dynasty of our time. I think he has a valid excuse. Besides, just becuase you invite the guy, doesn't mean you have the right to bash him if he can't make it.

    The truth is, Obama has earned more black support than any single leader since the civil rights era. He does not owe Tavis Smiley anything.

    I usually find Tavis Smiley to be a sensible guy, but this time he is just wrong.

    February 23, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. mary

    Hillary is a better candidate because she tries to build bridges between everyone and every country. With the situation that the world is in she is the type of candidate we need. Obama got their votes from the black people and doesn't need them anymore. I think we are seeing the real Obama emerge, he cares only about himself.

    February 23, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Anita J. Greenbaum

    Obama has to campaign in Texas and Ohio and that is why he cannot be in new Orleans. I'm sure people would understand if they were informed. He offered to send his wife who is competent to represent him.

    Go Obama

    February 23, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. SA

    Its called blind ambition!!!!!!!
    When the motorcade officer was killed, Hillary went to to hospital rather than show up at her rally.
    When D. Shuster went after her daughter she was ready to refuse the MSNBC debate.
    She shows up!
    Yes actions speak a whole lot more that WORDS!

    February 23, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Joe

    he cant be everywhere, this election is important to him and coming
    up is texas and ohio he has to get out and meet the people let us know who he is and what he is about give him time people. He will be the man to change the world. And he will need from all of us patience and understanding.

    February 23, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Jul, NY

    Obama won't go to Louisiana because he has already won the state. Now he does not care about Louisiana people anymore.

    February 23, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. John

    Hillary will visit but does this make a difference to her troubled campaign ? She still has the lead in both states and can afford to leave Bill to plug her message, Obama has to get his message out and name recognition is a big part of that which the Clintons have no worry over.
    To the Black Union I am white and say that he is MY candidate too and you should not use his racial mix to gain special treatment.
    The Democratic voters all over this nation need him to win this race anything that diverts him from that goal is counter productive.

    February 23, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Shawna

    Tavis Smiley is starting to get quite annoying. Actually now I'm irritated.

    I spent my money on the "The Covenant".

    And when I walk the streets of my community I notice that nothing has changed....

    Barack Obama, do your thing!

    February 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Tavis Smiley is to be admired for his attention to New Orleans however I agree with Obama for not attending the State of the Black Union. There are other factors involved that don't warrant Obama's attendance.

    February 23, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. wanda

    To be expected. He's aready got their votes, so now they are inconsequential.

    He has cajoled many to believe that he will be a different type of politician, he is simply more of the same. He has thus far escaped scrutiny, gets an inordinate amount of media time, it is obvious that there is bias on the media's part to push him onto American voters. Why is it that the media has so blatantly favored this man?

    I have never been more concerned with America's future that with this coming election. And, this Democratic Party seems to be more divided than ever before. What a sad state of affairs.

    Wake up America. Demand that the media ask questions of these candidates that will help us define who they are. We deserve that.

    February 23, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. John - Spokane, WA

    This is SO VINTAGE OBAMA, He doesn't need to go back to Louisiana because he's already sold em on voting for him. They are of no value to him now – Wake up America, you can expect more of this from him.

    February 23, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. SlapStick, Florida

    I am so sick of Tavis Smiley with this forum. Get over it egotistical jerk. I am an African America female and could care less about him skipping that forum because the forum production crew should have consulted with the grueling schedules of the candidates.

    February 23, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  21. From NH

    The full story was that Obama has made prior committments and he volunteered that Michelle would take his place.

    The organizers of the State of the Black Union forum declined the offer.

    Barack I would think twice about these individuals for the slam that they are giving a truly gracious and well educated woman (your wife).

    February 23, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Freedom Seeker

    I as a black person don't see the need for Barack Obama to attend this rally and he should not be condemed for not attending. He hasn't and shouldn't identify himself as "the black candidate" He is a biracial person and should not be "boxed" in to either side of his ethnicity. Tiger Woods is another example of this. Barack offered to let his wife Michelle take his place but Tavis Smilley rufused...why? As for HRC attending this event, she is losing with black people and is using this as a way to get their support back. The comments made by her and her husband about blacks supporting Barack should not be ignored...they showed how they really feel. Visiting black churches and going to events...prove nothing...it's just for show.

    February 23, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Manuel TX

    It's ironic that Obama has not done much for New Orleans...other than shoot a commercial there.

    Bill Clinton and Bush 1 at least established the Katrina Fund.

    Words, just words.

    February 23, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. Byron in CA

    Obama should have gone, those people cast their vote for him. Again Hillary shows by her actions that she is for the people, by the people and in this case with the people.

    February 23, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. Ed K.

    I must say Obama thinks he has it in the bag. Maybe some of his Black supporters will start to see the real Obama. He is white when he needs to be and he is Black when he needs to be.

    February 23, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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