WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Has The Obama Administration Addressed The Agenda Of The African-American Community? (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Has The Obama Administration Addressed The Agenda Of The African-American Community? (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss President Obama’s new campaign ad targeting African-Americans and if the Obama Administration has addressed the Black agenda.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney; Armstrong Williams, political commentator for “The Right Side”; White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan; and Politico’s White House correspondent Joseph Williams.

MR. MARTIN:  A whole lot going on this week in the nation’s capital, and here to sort it all out:  MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney; Armstrong Williams, political commentator for “The Right Side”; White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan; and Politico’s White House correspondent Joseph Williams.

All right, folks.  Let’s get right into it.

The Obama campaign now says, “We see Black people!”

[LAUGHTER.]

MS. APRIL RYAN:  [Crosstalk] —

MR. MARTIN:  I had to joke about that.

MS. FINNEY:  Okay – [chuckles].

MR. MARTIN:  Here’s their new ad targeting African-Americans.

[BEGIN AUDIO CLIP OF OBAMA CAMPAIGN RADIO SPOT.]

VOICEOVER:  Four years ago, we made history.  Now it’s time to move forward and finish what we started together.  We have to show the President we have his back.

CHORUS:  (Singing.)  We’ve got his back!

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (VOICEOVER):  We can’t afford to spend the next four years going back.  I’m running to make sure that, by the end of the decade, more of our citizens hold a college degree than any other nation on earth.

CHORUS:  (Singing.)  We’ve got his back!

PRES. OBAMA (VOICEOVER):  I refuse to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut by kicking children off of Head Start programs, or asking students to pay more for college, or eliminating health insurance for millions of poor and elderly and disabled Americans on Medicaid.

VOICEOVER:  Have the President’s back and register to vote.  Go to gottavote.org and register now.

[END OF RADIO SPOT.]

MR. MARTIN:  Panel, take it away.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  [Chuckles.]

MS. FINNEY:  [Chuckles.]

MS. RYAN:  Great beat!  Great beat!  Great beat!

MS. FINNEY:  [Chuckles.]

MS. RYAN:  Great –

OFF CAMERA:  [Crosstalk] – ’78.

MS. RYAN:  — beat.

MR. MARTIN:  So, you’re commenting on the beat – not what’s said in the commercial.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  You know, I – I think it’s – in – in some ways, it’s just so offensive.  Yeah, Black people will – ma- — the majority of them will always have the President’s back, but what – does he have their back?  What about their economy?  What about the job – what about the jobs – [unintelligible]?  What about the healthcare and the things that he’s promised?  And I understand they’re very caught up in having the first, and they would like to see him reelected; but I do think that the President pays a lot of lip service to Black people, and they don’t get what they deserve in return.

MS. RYAN:  Armstrong’s hitting the nail on the head.  The President, when he was talking about “I got your back,” and he was talking about cutting Head Start program money – funding for Head Start and other things, Pell Grants and stuff, they were – he was talking about the – the student in- — student loan increase that they’re talking about in Washington, and that is a real issue.  But the issue is where has this campaign been for the last couple of months, the last couple of years, in the Black community?  And that is a big concern.  And we were talking earlier, saying – we were questioning how many Blacks will be going to the polls, because it’s about, “What have you done for me?”  “What affects me?” – my pocketbook.  There’re so many – there’s still a disproportionate number of African-Americans on the unemployment line, underemployed and things of that nature.  It’s about what affects you.

MR. MARTIN:  You know, Karen, it’s pretty interesting.  I – I’ve talked to a number of people all across the country.  I’ve had conversations with small business owners.  I’ve had conversations with folks who work on Wall Street, folks who are teachers or whatever.  And it’s very interesting, because what happens is I will hear gripes, but then folks will say, “But get in line because our life is going to be worse if it’s Mitt Romney.”

And so if you’re the campaign, all of a sudden when you say, you know, “Have our back,” or, “He has your back,” to April’s point, shouldn’t you also be still, specifically for African-Americans, articulating “what I’m going to do for you over the next four years” –

MS. FINNEY:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — like he has to [the] LGBT community, to Latinos, to rural Americans as well?

MS. FINNEY:  But you know what?  Absolutely, but here’s the thing.  As the community – as a Black community, we need to be pressing that agenda – not even –

MS. RYAN:  Right.

MS. FINNEY:  — not on Black – not even on a – the first Black president; on every president.  I mean this is part of the – you know, in terms of the African-American community and per- — in terms of perceiving our political power that we have in this country – I had hoped that in Two Thou- — in the aftermath of 2008, when African-Americans saw what a huge impact we can have when we turn up, that we could galvanize that into more of a political force.  So, absolutely.  We should press the President.

I think what the White House would say in response – and you guys probably hear it every day – is, “All right, but the things” – “When we talk about our opposition to the Ryan budget, that would” – “and the things that will hurt the African-American community, we” – “we may not be singling the African-American community out, but we’re talking about things that will affect people,” you know, “up and down the spectrum.”

If we, as a community, don’t think that’s good enough, we’ve got to push that agenda.

MR. MARTIN:  But, Joe, here’s what’s interesting.  When that happens, the

public says, ‘Don’t do that!  Don’t do it!” and you – you’ve reported on it.  And I can guarantee you – I can guarantee you right now – that while this conversation is going on, as we speak, there’re people who’re going to be on my Twitter feed, going to TV One’s website, saying, “Don’t be talking about this,” “Don’t be asking for things,” “This might jeopardize his reelection,” and so you have this struggle that’s really going on; because I’m hearing one thing privately, but I’m hearing –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  And – and saying publicly –

MR. MARTIN:  — another thing –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — something else.

MR. MARTIN:  — publicly.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Well – and that’s part of the problem, but I think, to Karen’s point, outlining an agenda – it almost has to be forced from this White House.

But what is not happening is on the Republican side:  giving a true choice.  I was talking with some Black conservatives last week, where they were saying, “Look.  We have an opportunity to get the African-American vote here,” but nothing was happening.  The Romney campaign is not spending dime one in the Black community.  They went to West Philly.  It was almost a one-off – a one-and-done where they went in.  They got a little hostility, and they’re like, “Okay.  We’re not going to do that again.”

MR. MARTIN:  Well, interesting.  I – I’ve been to- — first of all, Ta- — Tara Wall is a senior advisor for the Romney campaign; and she – of course, she’s been on this show.  We – we all know her as well.  I’ve talked to her a couple of times as well, and she said she’s made the point in terms of – that they are going to be doing those things, to – you know, Armstrong, I don’t believe – first of all, I don’t believe that the Republicans ax- — Republicans actually think that they’re going to somehow get the Black vote, but I do believe that if you look at 2000, with Gov. George W. Bush, when you don’t tick Black folks off, it has a different reaction to when you do.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Well, you know, there’s this – you know, I heard candidate Romney this week inject teachers and firefi- — -fighters into [the] debate regarding Obama’s comments about the private sector.  I mean it was just – to me, it was just – to me, it was outrageous.  Why would you do that?  Because the issue is not about firefighters and teachers.  They’re not being fired.  Nor are they being hired.  And what the President is talking about is more bureaucrats, more social workers and more caseworkers that you’re hiring.

OFF CAMERA:  No, no, no, no.

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. RYAN:  [Crosstalk] – Armstrong.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. RYAN:  Government – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  Actually –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — actually – hold on.  Hold up!

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold up!  Hold up!  First of all, I’mma deal with that in “The Biggest Damn Lie.”  Finish –

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. MARTIN:  — your point.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — and so –

MS. FINNEY:  Thank you.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — and so the – the bottom line – look.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Look.  I am one of the people – like, on this panel, I voted for the President.  I voted for the President based on history.  I want this president to do well, but I cannot understand his policies, especially when you have a base, as you mentioned, as loyal as Black people.  He focus[es] his attention on the LGBT.  He focus[es] on everybody else.  Why?  Because he can take them for granted –

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — because they allow him to take them for granted.  They will not

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — hold his feet to the fire!

MS. RYAN:  A lot of Republicans – a lot of Black Republicans voted, gave him that because of history the first time.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Yes!

MS. RYAN:  Now you guys have broken ranks.  You said, “Okay.  We did it for history’s sake” – Colin Powell and some other Black Republicans

But let me say this to you.  Neither campaign has a Black agenda.  You can’t just say it about –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  That is the point.

MS. RYAN:  — you cannot just say it –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Well, you expect

MS. RYAN:  — about Barack –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — the President

MS. RYAN:  — Obama.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — to have one.

MS. RYAN:  But you expect –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  You certainly

MS. RYAN:  — if you’re going to be –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — could expect them to have one.

MS. RYAN:  — but you’re going to be –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  He gets 90 percent –

MS. RYAN:  — president of all –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — of the vote.

MS. RYAN:  — I don’t care.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Oh, please!  All the votes he’s getting?  He –

MS. RYAN:  Yeah, but –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — should return[?] –

MS. RYAN:  — I’m saying either[?] –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — the investment!

MS. RYAN:  — whoever –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  It’s an investment!

MS. RYAN:  — whoever’s going –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  You should –

MS. RYAN:  — to be –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — get a return on your investment!

MS. RYAN:  — you – okay, right.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Please!

MS. RYAN:  Whoever’s going to be president is president of all America – not just –

MS. FINNEY:  That’s right.  That’s right.

MS. RYAN:  — LGBT America, not just Latino America.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk] – not just conservative –

MS. RYAN:  Not just –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] – America.

MS. RYAN:  — [crosstalk]- — right!

MS. FINNEY:  Wait a second.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Not just conservative –

MS. FINNEY:  When you –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — White America.

MS. FINNEY:  — when you –

MS. RYAN:  And it’s –

MR. MARTIN:  Karen?

MS. RYAN:  — not just about –

MS. FINNEY:  — two –

MS. RYAN:  — the picture.

MR. MARTIN:  Karen.

MS. FINNEY:  — two things.  When y- — when communities that have lost firefighters, teachers –

MS. RYAN:  Yes.

MS. FINNEY:  — and police officers – that is predominantly African- — communities of color –

MS. RYAN:  Yes.

MS. FINNEY:  — where your children are in – having large class sizes.

Second point, to – to your point, I think there – there is clearly a frustration, and I think you are going to get a lot of backlash as this conversation is happening.  And I think part of it is because we are a loyal community, and there – but, yet, there’s frustration; and people feel like we shouldn’t be airing that publicly.  We should be having that conversation –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Be- — because of –

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — because of real politics.  I mean we know this.  We know that the first African-American president has encountered unprecedented resistance –

MS. RYAN:  Yes.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — from all quarters –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  All presidents –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — simply because –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — all of them.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — not all presidents –

MS. RYAN:  But his is different.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — in this –

MS. RYAN:  His is –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Yes, they –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — way.

MS. RYAN:  — different.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — do.

MS. RYAN:  There was a lot of racism.  You’ve got to –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  It’s different.

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk] –

MS. RYAN:  — acknowledge –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  It’s different –

MS. FINNEY:  — but the point –

MS. RYAN:  — that, Armstrong.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — than – [crosstalk] –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  You’re –

MS. FINNEY:  — that Roland –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — making –

MS. FINNEY:  — made –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — excuses for him!

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — I’m not making –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  You are

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — excuses –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — making excuses!

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — but – [crosstalk] –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  You’re guilty –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — but what –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — of the same –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — but what the –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — thing you’re accusing –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — problem –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — everybody –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — is –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — else of.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — the problem is –

MS. RYAN:  The birther –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — the Republican –

MS. RYAN:  — issue alone.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — Party – the –

MS. FINNEY:  — yeah.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — Republican Party has not presented an opportunity to compel the President to outline a –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  It doesn’t –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — Black –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — matter –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — agenda.

MS. FINNEY:  But – but also –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — what the Re- —

MS. FINNEY:  — you guys –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — it –

MS. FINNEY:  — to Roland’s point, there – the – just from a purely political perspective, the R- — you – I would’ve expected conservatives to say, “We’re not going to win African-American votes, but we might be able to neutralize” –

MR. MARTIN:  Precisely.

MS. FINNEY:  — “some of the African-American vote if we just show up and talk” –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  But, Karen –

MS. FINNEY:  — “to a” –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — they do –

MS. FINNEY:  — “few.”

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — try.

MS. FINNEY:  No, they –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  They try.

MS. FINNEY:  — don’t!

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  They do

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  They don’t –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — try.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — try.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  They do – [crosstalk –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  It’s not a –

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — sustained –

MS. FINNEY:  — not being able –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — effort –

MS. FINNEY:  — to stand up –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — Armstrong.

MS. FINNEY:  — to the birthers?

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  It’s not –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  The birther –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — a sustained effort.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS: — debate is ridiculous!

MS. FINNEY:  Of course

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  I don’t even know –

MS. FINNEY:  — it is!

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — why we’re talking about –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  And who –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — it!

MS. FINNEY:  It’s offensive!

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — has said that?

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  It’s not even an issue!

MS. FINNEY:  It’s –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Who has –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  It is

MS. FINNEY:  — offensive

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — said that?

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — offensive!

MS. FINNEY:  — and they won’t even –

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  But there are real issues

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Armstrong –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — that we should be discussing.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — Armstrong, there are real issues that we should be discussing.  There are real African-American issues that we should be discussing.  When Karen talks about the public-sector jobs that are going away, these are the jobs that allowed the African-American community to enter the middle class for the first

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  How do –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — time.

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — you justify –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Teachers –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — the public sector –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — firefighters –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — getting the –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — police officers –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — benefits and wages that –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — bus –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — are totally

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — drivers –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — out of line with the rest of America?  How do you

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — sanitation –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — justify that?

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — workers –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  I’m sorry!

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — which[?] – [crosstalk]- —

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. RYAN:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  I’m sorry!

MS. FINNEY:  — but because –

MS. RYAN:  — if you work –

MS. FINNEY:  — while the rest –

MS. RYAN:  — you earn the –

MS. FINNEY:  — of America –

MS. RYAN:  — money.

MS. FINNEY:  — while the rest of America was doing better, a lot of labor workers, let’s not forget, over the last 20, 30 years – they didn’t get raises.  They were told, “We’re not going to give you a raise.”

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  And the col- —

MS. FINNEY:  “We’re going to put it in your pension” –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — and the –

MS. FINNEY:  — “later.”

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — collective –

MS. FINNEY:  And then, when they came back to their pension, they said, “Oh, yeah.  That’s gone ’cause we screwed up.”

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — and the collection – the collective bar- — the notion of collective bargaining is not only a one-sided deal.  It is bargaining; it is not union –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  Labor –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — demands –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — is in collusion with these elected officials, and that’s why it’s become so corrupted.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — are you kidding me?

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  There’re – [crosstalk] –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  They’re in collusion –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — with Wisconsin?

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Get outta here!

MR. MARTIN:  One second.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  One second.  I need you to hold that thought.  Put a pin in it.

MS. FINNEY:  [Chuckles.]