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

Roberts: The Obamacons


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. Jon

    What are you talking about, Jim...TX? Williams says very plainly that there's not much he can embrace now, concerning Obamas policies. The problem is that Williams completely contradicts himself, but then the article changes the subject by looking at Watts.

    If Williams says that he can't embrace Obama's policies, than what exactly is he considering in voting for him???

    June 19, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Kelby from Houston, TX

    OH!!! and by the way, Resistance really is futile

    June 19, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. I AM NOW AN INDEPENDENT!*********



    June 19, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Vote Nader

    obamacan! June 19th, 2008 1:58 pm ET

    it's obamaCAN. con is not our business.can is our business.obama+ republiCAN= obamacan.get it right,roberts!


    He was combining "Obama" and "Conservative".

    Vote Pact

    ** Nader / Gonzalez 2008 **

    June 19, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Greg

    Those that bash the Bush seem to forget there is a trifecta that governs the United States. Where are the Dems that control Congress and the Senate? Back off the blame game and take some personal responsibility to learn the issues and who is best prepared to tackle the solutions. Look past the headlines and think. Thinking is hard work; that's why so few vote on the issues. It's easier to vote on image rhetoric, and emotion.

    June 19, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. John from LA

    Kelby and and other Bots-please re-read your comments-you're starting to sound VERY CULTISH!!!-scary!

    June 19, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. I AM NOW AN INDEPENDENT!*********


    June 19, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Would these Obamacons, who all appear to be black, be talking about voting for Obama if he was white? Yet they say it's not about race? Riiiiight. Face it, if 95% of white voters were voting for the white candidate like 95% of black voters are voting for the black candidate, we'd never hear the end of blacks calling them racist. There's a Mt. Everest sized double standard here.

    June 19, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. John

    if you vote for someone because of the skin color, there is a problem!

    June 19, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Al

    Obamacon is the truth..
    Obama is a con.
    He has conned the media and millions of supporters.
    Obama is scary.

    June 19, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. Adam Orlando Florida

    By this man making mention that he had "Never even considered voting for the opposition" and this time, because it could be someone other the "white men of america", he is "Open"?

    This sounds like a round about way to say- oh, well I am considering it, and that is only because this man is african american.

    Then to further stress you would never vote for someone because of their race, and that it would contridict everything they have writen, seems like one of the biggest lies ive heard all season. You can disect everything he has writen here and put this together.

    June 19, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. republicrat

    Race should not ever be a issue when running fo public office. It does appear that they whi have the most money can buy the office they are running for - like the presidency. I for one will not vote for one who does not, or will not, respect our FLAG or our National Anthem!!!!!

    June 19, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Mike in NYC

    (Nice going - you won't even let me into moderation.

    Good to see at least a few sensible posts made it into this thread)

    June 19, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Obama 08

    ...and many people are voting for McCain because he had the misfortune of being a POW...and he is old....

    June 19, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. kamenwati

    Canadian–stick to the politics of your own country and keep your racism to yourself.

    June 19, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Generation X

    PUMA = Operation Chaos

    Puma = Operation Chaos

    PUMA = Poor uneducated miserable adults

    PUMA = Poor uneducated miserable adults

    June 19, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. lil

    This election is not a matter of race or religion it is about our future
    just look at the mess that has been made in our country. Gas prices
    people are loosing their homes cant afford to by food. Things wasnt
    this way 10 years or even 8 years ago. It is a unwise person who
    would look at our economy and not see that we need change.

    Its not about black or white its IN black and white everytime you visit
    the gas station, by food OR anything how much prices of gone up a
    AND dont try to buy a house or car loans are very hard to come by.
    This election is not about race it about survival and change.

    June 19, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. Nobama

    Sadly the only reason Obama will win is cause he is black. People are scared to vote against a black man in fear of being racist. Some people will vote for him just because they want to see the first black president. Others will vote for him because they want to feel good about themselves for helping him get into the white house. Finally African Americans will vote for him, well because he is black. Only a small 10 percent of his votes will come from people who agree with his issues.

    This is wrong, this is against what MLK wanted. He said judge a man by his character and not by his skin color (or something like that) and people are going to vote for not because the agree with his ideas or where he stands on issues, but because he's black. I keep hoping to hear some one say "hey wait a minute what's going on here? this is against everything that Obama preaches. Maybe we should vote for the person who's ideas match our own." But I don't see that happening any time soon.

    I am a black man, I have served in the military, I have gone to collage and I have a decent job. Never in my life has anything been handed to me cause of my skin color. Obama and his wife had every thing handed to them, I worked for every thing in my life. This country will never move beyond issues of race until we can do away with laws that hand things out to us. I quit my first job because I found out they hired me over a more qualified applicant who happened to be white. To me that's racism. This seems to be what Obama supports and I will never ever vote for some one even if he is black who seems to think that we need hand outs.

    I won't vote for mcsame so one of the independents have my vote.

    June 19, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Beltway Insider

    Smart people vote for a leader, not a party.

    Smart people in both parties (and independents) will be voting for Obama.

    Bigots and morons in both parties will be voting for McCain.

    I'm hoping there are more smart people than idiots in this country. Remains to be seen.

    June 19, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    The Obama medicine will be tough for anyone to swallow with a rational thought in their head.

    Vendetta's against the privileged (who produce most of the jobs and income for the rest of the country) leads to an ever broadening definition of who is privileged.

    The politico's are never seen as privileged–they're public servants (yeh sure).

    With a nation moving towards socialism–they only liberty, freedom, and pursuit of happiness–will be among the drug addicts, inmates, hookers, homeless, vagabonds, unemployed, uneducated, down trodden (?), and any person of color and/or native heritage, minimum wage earners, and illegal aliens.

    The rest of us are up the creek.

    June 19, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Jack from California

    Conservative talk radio host Armstrong Williams has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. – Well, I'm not a "Obamacon" but, I can tell you I will never vote for a republican.

    I'm neither rich nor stupid so, I vote for my peers and all them are Democrats.

    June 19, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. Lynnette

    I'm having a hard time understanding why African-American conservatives are conflicted about voting for Obama.
    My question is: Why? If you are a true Republican, it should matter if he's an African-American or not.
    This tells me that they don't want to be left out, if he's elected president. How can you look at other African-Americans and say "I didn't vote for him." That's not a good look.

    June 19, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. km

    A black president would be a nice shot in the arm for this country. For one thing, it will take away many excuses that the color of your skin keeps you from succeeding. It won't erase racism, but it will certainly help a race of people start pulling themselves up with their own bootstraps.

    June 19, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Abbey

    I guess these conservatives also believe that if a father pays child support, he should be rewarded with a job or job training. I have a novel idea-why don't we tell these boozos to get a job and job training BEFORE they procreate. I know, how silly of me.

    June 19, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. ChicoSez

    Wow, black are voting for Obama because he's black, not because they agree with his policies. I keep hearing how Obama's and Clinton's views on everything are almost identical so I would have to believe that these black republicans would have voted for Hillary then, NOT! Voting for racial pride can easily slip into racism, just vote for the candidate with similar skin color, is that what America is reduced too? Remember, if your not for Obama, your a closet racist.

    June 19, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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