June 19th, 2008
12:35 PM ET
6 years ago

Roberts: The Obamacons

CNN

Watch John Roberts discuss Sen. Obama's historic candidacy with Armstrong Williams.

NEW YORK (CNN) - Conservative talk radio host Armstrong Williams has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. In fact, he says he has never even thought about the opposition. But this year – as Williams told me on today’s American Morning - things might be different. At the very least, he is thinking about the opposition. A lot. “You cannot help but look at and realize,” he told me, “that if Senator Obama wins, it’ll be the first time that someone would occupy the White House other than white men of America.”

For many Americans, that’s a heady thought – one that could be transformational in so many ways. Yet at the same time, Williams insists, Obama’s race is not a factor in his seesawing political emotions. “There’s no way I could vote for a candidate because of his race”, Williams said, “because it would contradict everything I’ve ever written and said in the past about racial politics. But, I’m open”.

So can we believe that race isn’t a factor in this rock-ribbed Republican’s potential conversion, particularly since Williams says about Obama’s policies “there’s not much I can embrace now”? Let’s consider former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts’ thoughts on the matter. Watts is one of a number of “Obamacons” – conservatives, including many African-Americans, who are giving the Senator a good, hard look. Obamacons believe he may be the best-equipped to take on poverty and urban policy, issues that are as important to them as low taxes and constructionist judges. Williams told me today “It would be foolish of me to say you cannot look at his candidacy and realize there’s something here that not only America but the world is ecstatic about.”

Obamacons believe he may be good for what ails the nation and the world.

As enticing as it might seem, the Obama medicine would be tough for Republicans to swallow. Pundits joke that the Senator’s policies make Ted Kennedy look like a conservative. Could they really set aside his views on taxes and abortion? Could they ignore the type of judges he would appoint to the Supreme Court? At this point, Williams isn’t sure. He hopes Obama might make enough progress on issues like capital gains and partial birth abortion to make him comfortable, but so far, there’s no suggestion of that. But William’s 82 year-old mother is committed. “She’s determined, and she’s voting for him,” he told me. “She never thought she would live to see the day that she would see the progress of America where we could show people that we’ve moved beyond this silly issue of race.” And for Obamacons, that may be the deciding factor.

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. NoMcSame

    Uncle Williams we don't need you or want you now. BROTHER. The Democratic Party has proved to be the party of the people and for the people. Go back to the other side and take your rightful place on the back of the bus, a place that you know so well. Don't try to turn this into a race thing. Uncle you have been out front for too long as the voice of the republicans and have spoken against every black person in Washington so get out of here with your crap. We don't want you.
    Now go SHINE McSames shoes boy. Now we know why your lips are so PINK.

    June 19, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. Teacher in Kentucky

    Jan from Flordia–
    Just to shed some light on the ignorance in your comment... not only are several of my students parents black, but so is my husband, and guess what? They all put their pants on one leg at a time and go to work, just like everybody else. I sure am glad that I am helping teach a new generation, and help prevent more ignorance in this nation. There may be a lot of people who do collect welfare, but guess what... there faces are of many colors!!

    June 19, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Catty

    Kelby,
    Thanks for the welcome wagon, but I will decline. I believe in the conservative policies that founded this country, i.e small government based on the free market. If I want socialism, there are plenty of places in Europe I can go to!

    June 19, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Joe the Troll

    The above comments are hilarious. I never saw anyone saying anything to those white guys without college degrees in W. Virginia about why they were voting the way they did.

    It seems that now that black people have a black candidate to vote for that can ACTUALLY WIN, voting by race is suddenly something that white people find shocking.

    Wake up, fools. If black people voted only on the basis of race, it follows that Jackson, Sharpton and Keyes would have done a lot better when they tried.

    June 19, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    Considering the history of race and oppression in this country, electing an African-American would be a gigantic step forward and that doesn't escape me and makes me very excited.........however, when gets down to it, I am voting for Obama because of where he stands on the issues. If this was Clarence Thomas or Armstrong Williams, they wouldn't get my vote.

    June 19, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Anna, SW Missouri

    I am an ObamaCAN, and I am also white, 58 y/o and a woman. Roberts has the spelling wrong, but I think RepubliCON is very appropriate for this election.

    June 19, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. HOPE IS COMING

    Hey Jan FROM BOCA RATON,

    COME OUT OF THOSE WOODS YOUR LIVING IN "PWT " and meet some real BLACK FOLKS.......YOUR FEELINGS WILL BE CRUSHED

    YOU MUST BE TALKING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY FROM W.VIRGINIA, KY, AND OHIO ....DON'T GET THE GAME TWISTED.

    LET GO TAX RECORDS FOR TAX RECORDS ...I'M A BLACK AMERICAN AND TRUST ME SWEETIE "YOU CAN'T TOUCH THIS"

    SPEAK WHAT THE FREAK YOU KNOW ..........

    NOT IMPRESSED WITH YOUR TPYE OF CHILDISH THINKING....

    OBAMA/08-12

    June 19, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. bernj

    "I have never heard of this GUY June 19th, 2008 2:21 pm ET..............He must be important on his side of the world. I guess I can google him."

    Naw....he just thinks he is important. That said, it is the first time Armstrong Williams has ever made any sense about anything. I'm glad he seems to be leaning toward Obama even if he still has a problem understanding exactly why. And no, it really is not about race so much as it is about thinking outside of the box that we have all been locked in for so long.

    June 19, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. G

    Williams appears to be just another African-American who votes based on race rather than on his political and or economic principles. We saw this in the prior primaries, so why should this case be any different? The question we now have to ask as a country is when African-Americans will move beyond race and not vote for someone merely because he or she may be African-American. The good news, as evident by Obama’s success, is that most Americans no longer vote principally based on race.

    June 19, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. ml

    well, Obama is cafe-latte. If he will be good, it will be good, but if he fails -what then?
    we have only hope that he will not be too much to the left, then it would be disaster. Because left countries went down the drain.

    June 19, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. Anita from Arizona

    Jan From Boca Raton, Fl said "He will also make history when he continues for the blacks , more food stamps, more low cost housing, free health care, unempleoyment while they all sit home on their butts, drive new cars and buy designer clothes while we the tax payers pay for their free benefits.

    Comments like that have no place in our country or in our society or on this planet for that matter. You are the BIGGEST RACIST ever. SHAME ON CNN for posting this garbage. You and people like you should be put on a space ship and launched to the center of the sun or better yet to the deep vaccum of space.

    June 19, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. ao

    Interesting – how come article does not mention that Mr. Armstrong Williams is in fact also African American – I think that changes the perspective on his statement.

    June 19, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Democrat in 08!

    I just don't think that Obama is this bad guy that people want us to believe. Some people over reach calling him the anti-christ like if they never had an education before. Its sad that people dislike someone like Obama because of his name or race and think that these factors are somehow points and arguments to discuss. This might be irrelevant but my mother called out Bush the minute he was elected she said he would be a horrible president. I thought she was over reacting he hasn't even been sworn in and already she didn't like him. But boy was she right! Now she see's Obama and really believes he will make a difference. Most of the time she is for someone because she hopes they will do good but this time its different she knows he will do good.

    June 19, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. rw

    Dont vote for Obama because:
    - I want McCain to continue Bush's policies
    - I want McCain to accept money from Lobbyist's so that Lobbyist will do
    could for US
    - Bush knew the Oil Prices will hit $4/gallon few years back, he didnt take any action; now McCain knows it will hit $6/gal within a year or two, McCain is not going to do anything except giving few cents of tax break and talking about more drilling;
    - About Economy, McCain/Bush know where to take it better than Obama/Democrats...
    - Oh... 100 years of war, Obama will end it!!!

    yea.. Dont Vote for Obama

    June 19, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Loretta from California

    @ I have never heard of this guy.

    Well, I am a African American woman who is very familiar with Armstrong, and I'm here to tell you that he would drink arsenic before he would vote Democrat. Don't believe everything that you read.

    DEMOCRATS UNITE!!!

    June 19, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. phantom of the Oprah

    Sick and tired of this con man masquerading as a legitimate presidential candidate.

    Since when do we install a nominee in this country? And one with no prior experience, track record or accomplishements, at that?

    Obama is a fraud who strong-armed his way into the nomination: literally by bully tactics at caucus, by playing the race-card, by manipulating his supporters into threatening a walk out/ black out of the vote, and by hiring lawyers to make sure that the Mi and Fl votes did not get to count.

    These are all dirty political tactics. And STILL, the media adores him and builds him up.

    The DNC and the media tore down HRC although she was by far the more qualified to lead. The politics of hate and deception.

    HRC is my candidate. My vote will not go to Obama. Cheating does not get rewarded.

    June 19, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. rw

    Dont vote for Obama because:
    - I want McCain to continue Bush's policies
    - I want McCain to accept money from Lobbyist's so that Lobbyist will do
    could for US
    - Bush knew the Oil Prices will hit $4/gallon few years back, he didnt take any action; now McCain knows it will hit $6/gal within a year or two, McCain is not going to do anything except giving few cents of tax break and talking about more drilling;
    - About Economy, McCain/Bush know where to take it better than Obama/Democrats...
    - Oh... 100 years of war, Obama will end it!!!
    - Obama will focus in Afghanistan to catch OBL, not in Iraq !!!

    yea.. Dont Vote for Obama

    June 19, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. xddy4u

    Williams, when all the hoopla is over, and Obama becomes the first American of color to become President of the USA, will you be on the side of History? Or will your support of a party that doesn't give a hoot about Americans of color, keep you from voting for him. If so, shame on you.

    June 19, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Lisa CA

    Martin Luther King would be appalled. Voting for someone just because of race!! I not surprised it's been going on since January. Obama has built his campaign around the notion that all blacks would get on board and they did. Not to mention the threats that were issued during the primary's to black office holders if they didn't back Obama.

    I wonder if Armstrong Williams would be saying the same thing if it had not been a black man, but a woman?? It's highly unlikely, which goes to strengthen my point that it is just aboout race and has been about race all along.

    Obama is not running a campaign that trancends race, but one that exploits it.

    June 19, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Nancy

    You are all ignorant people that can not see past color.

    McCain all the way....

    June 19, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Protest vote

    We allowed Obama to bully his way into the democratic nomination.

    The race-card, threats of a black-out of the vote, refusing to revote in Mi and Fl. Manipulating his followers into using vile, vulgar hateful attacks on fellow democrats to divide the electorate.

    The Superdelegates carried him over the finish line- just for political correctness. Even the perception of Racism is not acceptable- while blatent bias and trashing the female candidate is totally acceptable.

    Then Obama comes out calling for unity?

    TOO late for kiss and makeup.... we witnessed the vicious political raping of the better, more qualified, true leader.

    June 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Vicki Webster

    This is not about finance, is about Michelle Obama. Whe could not hold a candle to Jackie O>

    June 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Vicki Webster

    This is not about finance, is about Michelle Obama. She could not hold a candle to Jackie O>

    June 19, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. TAB

    Why is it that liberals accept everybody regardless of color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, financial status or ideology while conservatives can't or won't?

    June 19, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Loretta from California

    Armstrong cannot be trusted. I don't believe anything he says.

    June 19, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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