August 1st, 2008
01:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama hecklers accuse him of neglecting black community

Obama was greeted by hecklers at a Florida event Friday.
Obama was greeted by hecklers at a Florida event Friday.


ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) –
Three young African-American protestors, and two white women, interrupted Barack Obama at an economic town hall in Florida Friday, accusing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of neglecting the black community.

Watch: Hecklers interrupt Obama event

The protestors - who held a sign reading "What About the Black Community, Obama?" – said the Illinois senator had not been active enough on issues of interest to African-Americans, ranging from the impact of subprime mortgages to the shooting of Sean Bell and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Obama urged the audience – which began to boo the hecklers – to calm down, before addressing one of the men directly. “I think you’re misinformed. Everything you mentioned I did speak about,” he said, listing legislative initiatives and statements on those issues as the men continued to shout at him and the crowd began to chant “Yes, We Can,” the Obama campaign’s cheer.

“On each issue I’ve spoken out. I may not have spoken out the way you wanted me to speak out - I understand, but…hold on a second,” said Obama. “What I’m saying is, what I’m suggesting is on each of these issues I’ve spoken out….The one thing I think is important is that we’re respecting each other and the way we’ll solve our problems…is if all of us come together, black, white, Hispanic, Asian-American.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Tabloid Ads

    In 8 years time, McCain's health (physical, mental, emotional , psychological & spiritual ) has deteriorated. Wait and see what his financial health is going to be like. He is taking public financing to spend on tabloid ads. Public should be outraged.

    August 1, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. Onari

    This is good for Obama as it shows his support is not just lopsided. Sort of balances the race equation in the minds of some people who believe he is beloved by all black people.

    August 1, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Reagan/Nixon '08

    Why focus on 17% of the population, of which have historically a low voter turn out? Yes, I want to vote someone as president who appeases Europeans. Vote for Experience! Vote for the dead!

    Reagan/Nixon '08 for a stronger nation

    August 1, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. G

    Obama spoke on those issues... great. More importantly, what has he actually done to implement his solutions or ideas? It's fine that Obama stands up for himself – he should. But action and talk are two completely different things. Most people seem to have forgotten that in this election... Where have all the great candidates gone?

    August 1, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. aaa

    bla bla bla bla go home loosers and leave obama alone people are stupid and dumb vote for mccain if you dont like him don cry

    August 1, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. selected not elected

    Time for "turnabout is fair play"- Obama supporters interrupted, heckled, booed and insulted Hillary in vile and vulgar ways.

    Time to taste the medicine you have been dishing out.

    So lovely to have such wonderful, sophisticated, respectful, inspired supporters behind you.

    I'll say it again- WHO would vote for a candidate who inspires such hateful supporters?

    August 1, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Hillary supporter for McCain

    The truth will set us free. Thank you Black community for seeing Obama what he really is... an elitist, and only cares about himself and will say and lie to get elected. He has no experience and will be the same George Bush but a different color.

    August 1, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. Crush Rush

    Limbaugh just had a call from the Bush Family,thanking him for the wonderful job he has done for the Republicans and their Big Oil Agenda.Its Limbaughs 20 year birthday party of pushing Republican spin and propaganda.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Kongtooth

    This is a scam... Obama's militant troops won't let you within ear shot of him... let alone bringing a big sign...

    Give me a break... we've all seen him speak off teleprompter... he sounds like Paris Hilton... this was scripted without doubt...

    What a joke

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. saeed

    People you should realise that how much President Clinton did for Black people . Obama will not do for you , you will find out within couple of years he dont have any experence he only talk he is very good speaker everyone will miss Hillary Clinton

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. chris in oregon

    This is democracy at work. This is why we love this nation. This aside it is important that Sen. Obama continue to address this name and image,etc. I say this because people are still spreading fear on the internet. Just yesterday someone showed me a photo of Obama dressed in African clothes. I couldn't believe what they were showing me but I had no doubt its intent was to spread fear among the population. I am not moved by fear but in this age of 9/11 many folks are held up by the dread of the unknown.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Jabir

    The difficulty that Sen. Obama faces is simple. When he speaks about issues, those who are only emotionally invested see him as either too black, not black enough or just incapable because of his heritage. History has demonstrated that strength of heritage and the ability to see more than one perspective is the ability to look beyond one's color and embrace out human hertitage.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. Josh

    As a white guy, I really think Obama is for all people: Black, White, Hispanic, Asian Americans. He's there for all of us Americans. So, get informed.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. dennis from chicago

    to be in formed gives you knowledge.... mc cain talked to a heckler yesterday... she wanted to know how he felt about his paris hilton CELEB AD' he said to her' I'LL LET THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DECIDE THAT' just goes to show....it is all in what you know.....be informed read the larry sinclair report.........

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. tai

    When mccain got asked by a veteran why he didnt support to increase health benefits for iraq/afgan vets in 03/04/05, all he said was "well im endorsed by many vets groups", never answering the questions directly, while obama answered all questions directly one by one.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Allan

    I've always been a very liberal democrat. And, while I continue to believe in the democratic party, I will, for the first time, be voting for a Republican. Obama's response to the hecklers confirm that, in his years as a backbencher in the Illinois legislature (I'm, a Chicagoan) and in the U.S. Senate, ALL: Obama has ever done is "address" issues with his words. Though I don't particularly like McCain, his lack of Obama-style rhetoric makes me feel he's more honest than the professional orator running against him.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. White in NH

    Why can't anyone just stick to the issues? I'm pro Obama all the way; not because he's black, not because he can speak well to a crowd, but because he is the BEST CANDIDATE. He's smart, thinks things through and does what's right. I believe with my heart that he has the country's best interest at hand.

    We all need to vote for who we feel is the best candidate for our country. Hillary is no longer an issue and it's time to let that go. She can't change what's in the past any more than John Edwards, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, etc. can change it. The only two choices now are John McCain and Barack Obama. To vote on what could have been will not help. If you are a woman and want to protect woman's rights, the choice is clear...Obama is your candidate. If you feel that continuing with the war in Iraq is the best choice for your country, McCain is your candidate.

    Of course, there are lots of issues. Please vote on the issues, not on the peripheral stuff the media plays out and not on what could have been.

    August 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Danny,IA

    Barack, you are the problem here. You have answers for everything. You have a big mouth. You do not have any experience whatsoever to run our great nation. Go away.

    August 1, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. bhogan

    Plants.

    Here's the idea; either Obama
    1. Doesn't embrace these guys, and alienates his base, or
    2. Embraces them, and alienates the swing voters.

    See? It's easy to think like Karl Rove! Vile, but easy!

    August 1, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. tommy

    Hillary 2012

    August 1, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. BJ

    I think that the role of a president is to surround himself or herself with the most talented advisors possible and motivate the public to believe that it can get better. If nothing else... I believe that Obama will help break the cycle of fear Bush and Cheney have put us under for the past 8 years.

    And... as far as the Yes We Can chant being creepy and "cult-like"... every campaign has a chant... and always have. So... shut up and think folks.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. sweetly

    Obama did not handle this well at all!!! To tell these young men to vote for someone else or run for office was very Disrespectful. I was angered by those statements. He has listened to the Jewish community, He has listened to the Hispanic community, he has gone out of his way for ALL of the other communities, but he doesn't believe that the issues of the Black communities are worthy. I guess the only issue he wishes to talk about with black communities is Single parenthood, for those who might not know there are married ppl in the community, also, tax payers, voters, etc ppl who believe that those issues, about crime, education, police brutaility(Sean Bell), the displacement of Katrina victims are important. I guess Obama, whom I have supported from the very beginning, shouldn't be surprised on election day when those young men and many others decide to stay home or find another candidate.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Phantom of the Oprah

    Obama tries to be ALL things to ALL people.

    That forces him to have to pander, backtrack, denounce and "refine" his positions.

    The man stands for nothing and will fall for anything.

    He has one goal: win at all costs, and secure himself a page in the history books.

    To this end Obama has been reckless, divisive, race-baiting and hateful. EVEN to fellow democrats.

    Whay goes around comes around.

    IF DEMOCRATS WANT TO WIN IN NOV- THEY SHOULD HAVE NEVER SWIFTBOATED HRC OUT OF THE RACE.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Andy in San Francisco

    It's amusing how Obama supporters relegate a challenge to their Fuhrer to being McCain paid protestors. This "Yes We Can" thing is scary to say the least. The American people's frustration with current problems and a desire for change has led them to poorly seperate rhetoric and talk from experience, maturity, knowledge, and just plain hard facts. Obama remains a joke of a candidate. While the rest of the Lemmings keep heading off the cliff, buying this man's rhetoric and constantly shifting stances on subjects based on who the audience of the moment is, many of us...the intelligent, long-run focused...remain confident that Senator McCain is the man for America. The overall problem with America is education. It's the fact that our education system is dominated by the Left and that a majority of people spend their entire lives the ward of one institution or another and in their free time watch stupid sitcoms. Obama, as a presidential candidate, demonstrates to me exactly what Winston Churchill said about Democracy. And Obama, as a candidate proves to me that the American empire is on a downward spiral as a result of the declining values and quality of its people.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Alice

    I really like and agree with Al Ware's comment. Obama is trying to address American issues which includes every race, color, and creed. Let's encourage him–this is no easy task.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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