April 16th, 2008
01:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama backer: Campaign's 'racial dynamics' like Helms-Gantt

(CNN) -
Rep. Mel Watt, who endorsed Barack Obama Wednesday, said that the current presidential contest reminds him of Harvey Gantt’s Senate bid.

Watt served as campaign manager for the Democrat’s unsuccessful run against the-Sen. Jesse Helms in 1990. He told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that Gantt almost came out on top that year.

"This campaign has some of those same racial dynamics, those same kind of interesting dynamics that don't coincide with every single campaign that we've had," he said.

He added that "to stick our head in the sand and not acknowledge that would be to ignore the obvious." Earlier, Watt had said that he did not think the country was ready for a black president.

He said that he has been surprised at how much Obama has continued to build support as the campaign has progressed, one reason why he changed his mind after earlier stating that he did not think America was ready for a black president.

The congressman said he believed the racial climate had improved since the Gantt-Helms race: “it’s a new day in America,” he said.

soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Newman

    It is a new day for America. Let's shine, and vote for Obama!

    April 16, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Ecks........Get Smart America!

    No vote from me for an Arab American .... who has condoned the words of racism and anti-american comments. Who willfully worked to disenfranchise millions of democratic votes. Who has back door deals going on all over the world (Canada/NAFTA come to mind)

    Offering hope is not an opportunity for change, it is only an opportunity for disappointment! Senator Obama is not electable for the democratic party in November. He should have waited for the next election. Shame on him for his selfishness vs. putting the Democratic Party first. He will get what he deserves and the rest of us will get McCain with a democratic house and senate.

    April 16, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. randy

    I can't agreey more stacy clarks.

    April 16, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. PCM01

    Mr. Watt was able to overcome parochial politics and was able to see the big picture: an orderly transition t o a new political generation...Refreshing, indeed.

    April 16, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. maggie

    CNN...you mentioned four endorsements for Obama...
    Mentioned...hell! You practically yelled them out...over and over... but guess what? No mention of Hillary's new endorsement. Your Clinton hate is so obvious. Fox is the only truth teller in the media!

    April 16, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. B. Churchill, Newport Beach

    George W. Bush is the most profound example yet of why race is not
    an indicator of intelligence.

    April 16, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Jenny Sprowl

    SOMETHING POSITIVE !!!!!1 Hillary has good looking hair. And I like her taste in earings...

    April 16, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Tom,des moines

    Obama+Louise Farrakhan+Rev.Wright=Osama.

    April 16, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. Roots of Bitterness

    A NEW day indeed!
    Let every root of bitterness melt into forgiveness........

    April 16, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. jerral

    stacy clark in tx
    i am in arkansas
    hillary we will like you when you drop out and straightn your lieing a- up and please don't come back to ar.

    April 16, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. Ed, Fl

    I congratulate America. I think we have made some significant progress although there are a lot to be made.
    L'union fait la force. Vive L'Amerique.

    April 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  12. IKE


    April 16, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. POLITICS 101

    TO:Stacy Clarks, TX April 16th, 2008 3:22 pm ET


    DEMS 08

    April 16, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. Sue

    It certainly is and thank God for that. No more Clinton-Bush dynasty. Obama in2008

    April 16, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  15. Jane, NC

    Unfortunately, the gender dynamics are an even sadder commentary on our culture. We have a rare opportunity for a fine, capable president in Senator Clinton; we should not blow it by falling for a rock star. There are serious problems facing our country.

    April 16, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. JW

    Polls released yesterday (Quinnipiac) and today (Daily News/Franklin & Marshall) show Clinton up 5 to 6 points here in Allegheny County but up 38 points (both polls) in southwestern counties surrounding Allegheny.

    April 16, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. Kim

    Am I the only one who has noticed how the Go Girl Hillary supporters keep calling Obama , Boy and other racial slurs. Wow! The racist Clintons and thier sickening supporters are really set to implode the Democrat Party.

    April 16, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. paul in pittsburgh


    April 16, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  19. JW

    Polls released yesterday (Quinnipiac) and today (Daily News/Franklin & Marshall) show Clinton up 5 to 6 points here in Allegheny County but up 38 points (both polls) in southwestern counties surrounding Allegheny

    April 16, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  20. John

    I just find this strange.

    Hillary has been caught saying to America in 1996 “EVERYONE is in favour of free trade””!!! ….., "NAFTA is proving its worth.".
    Hillary said in 2004! “NAFTA has been good for New York and America!!!

    Yet she still claims that she was never for NAFTA and that it was only Bill who was…….and says she would not have made the same mistake as Bill.

    Question: If Hillary had such a great idea on NAFTA why didn’t she tell this great idea to her husband Bill?

    Well, the answer is because Hillary is lying about NAFTA!!! Hillary liked NAFTA, promoted it and together they received over $800,000 due to the NAFTA / CAFTA dealings.

    April 16, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  21. Th3rdpwr

    Stacy Clarks, I'll give you two:
    1) Hilary is a strong woman.
    2) She is savvy and intelligent.

    I'm voting for Obama because he is inspirational, exudes integrity and calm, and, just by getting elected, has the potential to heal the biggest social chasm in this country since its beginnings.

    April 16, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. Tyler

    Dear Josh,
    Now please type out in CAPS all of Hillary's problems (lies) including – Bosnia, Peter Paul, Woman in hospital.

    April 16, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6