Washington Watch: How Will POTUS Support Of Same-Sex Marriage Impact The 2012 Presidential Race? (VIDEO)

President Barack Obama has come out in support of same-sex marriage. What will the political fall out be and what will happen politically when it comes to this issue.

This week’s roundtable features MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney; Politico’s White House correspondent Joseph Williams; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; and the host of “The Right Side,” political commentator Armstrong Williams.

MR. MARTIN: The conversations on Facebook and Twitter go both ways, some saying the President’s support of same-sex marriage won’t change their vote, and others say it absolutely will. We’re talking about it with MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney; Politico’s White House correspondent Joseph Williams – he stepped up his pocket square game – Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition –

MS. KAREN FINNEY: [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN: — on Black Civic Participation; and the host of “The Right Side,” political commentator Armstrong Williams.

Folks, welcome to the show.

One of the things that I’ve been focusing on this week is this whole notion of what potential – potentially will happen politically when it comes to this particular issue. The national polls say one thing when it comes to same-sex marriage, but when you look at 32 states that have gone to the polls, supporters for same-sex marriage are 0 for 32. And so how do you see this – the role this will play come November, come strategy, come GOP side and Democratic side?

MS. FINNEY: I think one of the things I think we have to remember when we talk about those statistics [is] the voters who go to the polls to vote against same- — same-sex marriage measures are not necessarily the same voters – they may be part of the pool of voters who will vote in a general election.

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. FINNEY: So – and I think there are those voters who maybe disagree with the President on this issue, but generally like him and respect him, who probably it won’t in- — [a]ffect their vote. I think there’s voters who – for whom they don’t respect this position. They don’t like this position, but they probably weren’t going to vote for him anyway, and most of the polling that I’ve seen suggests that African-American, Latino, a lot of folks – more people know someone who’s gay, or have someone who’s gay – openly gay – in their family, to which it’s a more personal, family issue. So, they might put that aside and then vote on those pocketbook –

MR. MARTIN: Gotcha.

MS. FINNEY: — issues at the end of the day.

MR. MARTIN: Joe, you’ve been doing a lot of reporting on this as well.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: Yeah, some, and that pretty much reflects where we’re at – although I must say I’m surprised how much it blew up on Twitter and Facebook, people talking about, “I’m African-American. I’m a Christian. I do not believe that this is legal. I’m not going to go” – “go vote, and I’m not going to work for Pres. Obama” – probably a small minority, but in an election where every vote’s going to count, it could make a difference –

MR. MARTIN: Let me deal –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — in some states.

MR. MARTIN: — with that first part of what you said, “I may not vote.”

Melanie, that really is, or should be, a concern of Pres. Obama’s team, because the question is they’re not going to – mi- — might – they might not say, “I’m going to vote for Mitt Romney,” but the last thing he needs are folks not voting and also not bringing five, ten, 20 other folks with them to the polls.

MS. MELANIE CAMPBELL: Based on what happened [in] 2004, we’re not in that same election cycle. The feedback we’re getting on the ground when I talk to my folks in states, yes, people may have their religious views about –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — it, but thi- — it’s not a deal breaker. People are focused on their pocketbook issues, and a lot of folks have evolved on the issue from other vantage points. So, I don’t think you – you’re going to see the kind of backlash we saw with what happened in 2004, in Ohio, for exu- — for example. That’s not what – what I’m hearing, and that’s not what I’m getting from the ground.

MR. MARTIN: Armstrong, pretty interesting, the GOP’s reaction this week. They don’t want the page turned from the economy to same-sex marriage. They – the ar- — the argument from Speaker Boehner and others is, “The President is weak on the economy. We could win on that issue and not drive this social issue.”

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: Well, they – they believe that the President is trying to change the conversation, and that “it is the economy, stupid,” and that’s what we should focus on.

I – I think in this debate, I d- — I don’t think that the President – it’s all – it’s all – sometimes it’s difficult to figure out their calculations. You know, this is really about money and fundraisers and who holds the power, and gays have a very strong lobby in – in this coun[try], and they have a lot of money, and they have a lot of power.




MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: — but it – it – may I finish? I didn’t interrupt. May I finish?

MR. MARTIN: Go ahead.


MR. MARTIN: Then – then Karen.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: — and then – and also, the issue of whether or not – when you look at North Carolina, and when you talk about 0 for 32 – and it should be a state issue. The problem here is I think that American Muslims, a few Blacks that would have voted for the President – that he could lose some of that support. In fact, to me, this is a loss for him – not a gain – because I don’t think someone should be a single-issue person, because there are other issues that you –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: — vote on. But this is a very important moral issue in this country.

MR. MARTIN: Karen.

MS. FINNEY: But I don’t think – I don’t think the President sees this as a single issue. I think he sees this as part of, if you’re going to say you are for equal rights for everyone, that that, for him, has to be consistent. And, again, I think that’s why, for some people, they may respect that it is a sincere, principled position, but disagree with him – which is why, ultimately, I think, when it comes down to it, do you want Barack Obama, or risk not voting for Rob- — not voting for Barack and getting Mitt Romney? I think they will.

Now, to your point about the gay donors – that’s an absolute fallacy. The LGBT community has been very supportive of Pres. Obama. They’ve obviously been very clear that they were disappointed he hadn’t been more vocal about supporting same-sex marriage, or hadn’t completed that evolution, but this is not about – this was not about fundraising –

MR. MARTIN: But I – hold –

MS. FINNEY: — [crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN: — up. But w- — but one second.

But – but, Joe, I read a lot of pieces on Politico that have stated the LGBT community has clo- — closed their checkbook in 2010 –


MR. MARTIN: — regarding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Also, when the President chose not to extend the executive order dealing with discrimination in federal contracts, that i- — with the super PAC, I’ve read one of the stories where they said folks were going to give seven figures, and they said, “I will close my checkbook.” And so that actually has come up in some of the stories I’ve read on your website.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: Well, it’s come up, and it’s come up to the degree that there w- – there – there was strong LGBT support for the President. There’s no question about that. There were a lot of fundraisers in New York over the last couple of years, some of which he had actually gotten heckled by LGBT activists who wanted him to come out forcefully and state his position. “Yeah, you’ve done all this other stuff, but where’s the real meat on the table that we want?” And, certainly, in his fundraiser in Los Angeles yesterday, the money flowed. It was 15 million in a day. After he made his announcement, there were –

MS. FINNEY: But that was –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — records –

MS. FINNEY: — George Clooney. Come on, now.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — well – [chuckles] – George Clooney –

MS. FINNEY: [Chuckles.]

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — George Clooney, indeed. He’s a – he’s a big draw. They were anticipating somewhere around 12. They got 15. A lot of people are attributing it to the fact that he got a hero’s welcome when he –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — entered that fundraiser, and largely because of what he said.

MR. MARTIN: I do want to ask this, Melanie, and – and this is one of the things that I’ve gotten some emails on – folks stating [that they find it] interesting that the President comes out [and] supports same-sex marriage, speak – [unintelligible] – some of the other issues, speaking directly to an LGBT agenda. Yet, when African-Americans talk about what is an African-American agenda, all of a sudden that then becomes, “Well, no. He’s the President for all people. It really shouldn’t be about a Black agenda.”

And so I’m hearing a number of African-Americans say, “Wait a minute.”

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: That’s exactly right.

MR. MARTIN: “You talk about,” you know, “speaking to one group’s agenda. What about our agenda?”

I want you to speak to that, and also Joe.

MS. CAMPBELL: Well, the first thing, I’m not – I don’t want us to pit African-Americans against –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — the gay-lesbian community – [crosstalk]- —

MR. MARTIN: No, it’s not pitting, but it’s –

MS. CAMPBELL: — I’m saying –

MR. MARTIN: — speaking to –

MS. CAMPBELL: — in that – in that –

MR. MARTIN: — right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — vein. I just wanted to make –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — make that point. I think each o- — each constituency, if you will, has to make sure that we’re organizing together on what our agenda is. I think that’s very critical, so with us, we’re working on that for 2012, just like any other group. We have to be as forceful as any other constituency about what’s important to us. I’m not putting – putting in it that the –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — President need – doesn’t need [to] do more. Of course he needs to do more, but we also have to make sure that we’re clear on what it is the kinds of agenda items we want to see –


MS. CAMPBELL: — happen, working with – [crosstalk].


MS. CAMPBELL: And I think part of [it?] –


MS. CAMPBELL: — let me finish my point –

MR. MARTIN: — right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — is that we know for – for the – for the African-American community, jobs are the number one issue for us. It is on the President’s agenda. When you talk about healthcare, it’s on the President- — there’re some things, yes, we want, as Bla- — as a Black woman –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — I want to, in the next administration, see a Su- — a Black woman be, for instance, no- — nominated –


MS. CAMPBELL: — or, minimally, at least interviewed for Supreme Court justice – for sure. So, I think there[’re] things that we’re disappointed in that he hasn’t addressed, but there’re also very, very clearly defined issues that are on his agenda.

MR. MARTIN: But you know what, Joe?

MS. CAMPBELL: And it is a Black agenda.

MR. MARTIN: — but – [unintelligible] – but, Joe, I don’t think Afr- — i- — if – if you – and it’s not pitting, but it is comparing.


MR. MARTIN: I don’t believe that African-Americans have the same leeway to be able to criticize this president externally, to be able to drive a discussion on an agenda like [the] LGB- — LGBT community has.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: Well – and that’s part of the problem. Number one, the agenda not necessarily is unified. Certainly, jobs is paramount for everybody. A lot of people are asking, “Where is the economy recovery that gets my neighbor work? That gets me work? That gets my” –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — “cousin work?” The problem you have here is that there’s a very real – and I was discussing this with a source yesterday. There’s a very real paranoia in the African-American community about coming to push the President. The point was [the] LGBT community pushed him. They got what they wanted.

MS. FINNEY: But one po- —

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: And this is –

MS. FINNEY: — point that I would make is remember we were going to ha- — the par- — Democratic Party is going to have to deal with this by the time it got to the convention, because –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — absolutely.

MS. FINNEY: — there was a motion on the table to add this as a plank to the platform. So –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. FINNEY: — one – one way or the other, this issue was going to –

MR. MARTIN: No, no, no –

MS. FINNEY: — come up.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: But – but – but –

MR. MARTIN: — no, no, no, no.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — [crosstalk]- —

MR. MARTIN: I – I go- — hold on one second. I thi- — [crosstalk] –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — you’re – you’re absolutely –

MR. MARTIN: — I’m thinking beyond this issue.


MR. MARTIN: I’m speaking for the last three years.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — well, tha- — and that’s – that’s the point. Writ large, that has been a push by the LGBT community. There’ve been Latinos who’ve been pushing for the Dream Act. The African-American community has largely been silent, and a lot of times people are saying that’s because there’s a para[noia] that anything said ill of the President will hurt his presidency, damage the legacy. Then we won’t get anything at all.


MR. MARTIN: Armstrong, literally got a tweet from somebody who said, “Roland, you shouldn’t say anything perceived as negative against the President, because we’ve got to protect the brother.” But to the previous question to Melanie, how does sa- — stating that then protect a Black agenda?

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: — well, the President is not your brother; he’s the President of the United States, and he’s des- — definitely – Black Americans in this country must wake up to the fact they are so taken for granted. And – and the President can get away with far more than a Bush and a Clinton could ever imagine possible, because they realize they have this oath of loyalty. The LGBT [community] will criticize him on the same-sex marriage issues. The Jewish community will take him to task on Israel – and not only take him to fa- — task, if he doesn’t do anything about it, they will hold their money. They’ll – the- — and Al Sharpton has been sho- — silent as a supporter of the President. He doesn’t stand up in – in the activist role that he once was in.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t know. I think he does.

MR. MARTIN: First of all —


MR. MARTIN: — first of all, let me say –



MR. MARTIN: — no, no. We- — well, hold on one second. Let me say this here. My issue goes beyond one person, so my point is not Rev. Al Sharpton. The point, though, is much broader than that, and I’m raising the question because –


MR. MARTIN: — literally –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: — they’re not going to speak up.

MS. FINNEY: [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN: I – I m- —

MS. FINNEY: — but I – but –

MR. MARTIN: — go ’head.

MS. FINNEY: — I think the point that you’re making is similar to one that was made about was it Bill Clinton who was, you know, the – as a White southerner who was actually able to put issues of race on the table in a way that maybe another president couldn’t have. Is that par- —

MR. MARTIN: No, no, no, no.

MS. FINNEY: — I mean is it –

MR. MARTIN: The – no, no, no, no. No –

MS. FINNEY: — is it because –

MR. MARTIN: — no, no.

MS. FINNEY: — he’s Black? Is[?] –

MR. MARTIN: — the statement I’m raising is very simple. I totally understand African-Americans being par- – protective of the President, but he still is the 44th president. And when you begin to talk about your – your mors- — your most loyal constituents, whether they’re gay and lesbian, whether they’re young voters, where they’re the Latinos, I’m saying to African-Americans even if you say, “I’m down with the President,” you still should –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: You still have –

MR. MARTIN: — have an ask.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — you still have to pu- —

MS. FINNEY: Absolutely.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — you still have to push him. The quote that was – was – was – reminded me yesterday was, “Great presidents are made, not born.” Great presidents have to enact legislation because there’s an urgency. You have Roosevelt and A. Philip Randolph talking about civil rights in the early stages. You have LBJ talking to Martin Luther King, King pushing him for a Voting Rights Act, for a Great Society, for a War on Poverty. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum, because the President has a broad agenda. He is president of all the people –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — but the people who make the most noise, the people who stir things up –

MS. FINNEY: That’s right.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: — the most are the ones who get results.


MR. MARTIN: Folks, we’re ou- — w- — I’m absolutely out of time, but trust me. One of the things that we’ll be doing over the next several weeks [is] we’ll also be speaking directly to that, and that is, “What is the Black ask of this president, leading towards November?”

Karen, Joe, Melanie, Armstrong, we appreciate it. Thanks a lot.