WASHINGTON WATCH: Engaging Voters And Getting Out The Vote; Black Pastors Allegedly Not Supporting Pres. Obama (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss engaging the electorate where they are, encouraging minorities to vote and address the Associated Press article that alleges Black pastors telling their congregations not to vote on election as a protest against Pres. Obama’s support of same-sex marriage.

MR. MARTIN:  One of the things that jumps out is that we’ve seen –


MR. MARTIN:  — folk –


MR. MARTIN:  — we’ve seen this gleeful reaction from supporters of the President, and I’ve heard people literally say, “The election is over.”  We’ve seen battleground polls showing the President is up in Ohio, in Virginia, neck-and-neck in Florida, also up in Colorado; but the reality is, if you remember 2008, that election was tight all the way through the middle of October until Sen. McCain suspended his campaign when it came to the debt crisis.  That’s when then Sen. Obama began to pull away.

And so I don’t get people who are on the left who say this campaign is over.  I think they’re crazy, because we don’t know what the impact is going to be with these voter suppression laws, and also what happens when the Romney super PACs start dropping $200 million on ads.

MR. JOHNSON:  The di- — the other – the other reality is that we – we forget that the GOP will vote – no matter what.  You – you could put a rat and a roach as V.P. and presidential nominees –


MR. JOHNSON:  — with a GOP t-shirt on, and they would turn out.

MR. MARTIN:  ’Cause they don’t like Pres. Obama.

MR. JOHNSON:  No.  Well – and – and – and they turn out.  I think the concern – there – there’s two things.  There was a huge bump, at least from an excitement level, from the DNC.

MR. MARTIN:  From the convention.

MR. JOHNSON:  And so – yes.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. JOHNSON:  And so there were a number of people that got excited.  Secondly, we began to see these numbers that I don’t think we expected this early that were showing the President ahead in some key battleground states.  I was almost horrified by that, because I know what that does for some of us, in particular – is it says, “Pres. Obama[’s] got it.”

MR. WILLIAMS:  Complacency.

MR. JOHNSON:  And on November 6th, if it rains, they[’re] like, “Oh, it’s good.  I don’t need to go out.”

And so we – we cannot stop.  We cannot rest.  We cannot lay back on our laurels.  We cannot think that he has it.  I don’t care if – if Romney blunders the next 49 days.  We need to push and push and push because, at the end of the day, we have to make – I – I want to see the President win by so many votes that it’s absurd.  And if that happens, then fantastic, but we have to make up for the potential ground that’s going to be lost by voter disenfranchisement, by confusion, by laziness and by miscommunication.

MS. TESFAMARIAM:  I – I want to make the point [that] I think voter suppression is something we often talk about, but there’s something that happens through the leadership of, you know, various communities – communities of faith, for example, where you have pastors who have said they’re not going to vote in this election because they can’t choose between a Mormon and a president that supports same-sex marriage.  So, what I am really concerned about are influential people who offer spiritual revelation to people, who kind of speak as God’s mouthpiece – as well as, you know, the – the debate that you’ve been having on – on Twitter over Lupe Fiasco and rappers.  And – and so people who have influence in the decisions that people make le- — leaving a sense of apathy in people because they say, “Why vote?  I’m” – “I’m essentially choosing the less[er] of two evils.”

And I think it’s absolutely irresponsible for leaders who have their own platforms, who can reach out to millions of people say, “Well, on that day, why don’t you be silent?”

MR. MARTIN:  Tatyana?


MS. ALI:  That in particular, but there’s also – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  It’s like you tryin’ to say somethin’, but you tryin’ to, like, “I don’t really” –

MS. ALI:  No, because –

MR. MARTIN:  — “wanna go there.”

MS. ALI:  — well, this is – this is a conversation that – that is being had all over the place – in our living rooms and – and it’s happening in my living room all the time, too.

But one – one reason that we can’t, kind of, stop our pace and – and why we have to keep it moving forward is that there’s a really large group of voters who don’t really pay attention until the very end.  So, all this stuff that we think is so outlandish, that is – “Oh, my goodness!  People’s minds have to be made up now.  Now they really know who Romney is.  Now they really can see the difference.”  That’s not even in their frame of reference.

And so we can’t – we can’t let that time – we can’t let that window pass.

MR. JOHNSON:  Roland, but – and – and to that point, there’s also a segment of our population that the campaign’s not going to, that – that they’re just not.  For whatever reason, they’re not going.  I – I’m just – I just became communication director for a new super PAC called Black Men Vote, and we’re targeting 18- to 34-year-old Black men in Ohio and Virginia, ’cause we know at the end of the day, those two states in particular can have a huge impact on the overall electoral count.

I know that there are places that – that the President’s campaign is not going, and so I want to go with messages and individuals.  I want to go to strip clubs.  I want to go to bars.  I want to go to transit areas.  I want to go to housing complexes.


MR. JOHNSON:  I want to go to the places –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. JOHNSON:  — you better not start!


MR. JOHNSON:  I want to go to the places that the –


MR. MARTIN:  “Can I get a table dance?”

MR. JOHNSON:  — campaign –

MR. MARTIN:  “Registration card!”

MR. JOHNSON:  — hey!

MR. MARTIN:  “Can I get a table dance?”

“Registration card!”

MR. JOHNSON:  Absolu- — I want –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. JOHNSON:  — I want two – [unintelligible] –


MR. JOHNSON:  — to go into the strip club and say, “If you[’re] baller enough to make it rain, you[’re] baller enough to vote.”  I – I don’t –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. JOHNSON:  — care what


MR. JOHNSON:  — it is.  That — that’s what I’m looking for ’cause if – to – to Tatyana’s point –


MR. JOHNSON:  — there’s a whole generation of young people who care about stuff that’s going on, but they’re never engaged –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. JOHNSON:  — to be a part of the process, and we[’ve] got to do that.

MR. MARTIN:  I – I do want to do one thing.

Rahiel, you brought that story up – and I know we’re almost out of time.  Let me be real clear.  The Associated Press ran a story –


MR. MARTIN:  — that said that these Black pastors are urging their congregations not to vote.


MR. MARTIN:  That story is actually a like.  Okay?


MR. MARTIN:  I have a piece on – it’s on my website right now.  In that story, there wasn’t a single pastor quoted saying they were telling their congregation not to vote.

And so I reached out to the AP, and I said, “Wait a minute.  How do you run this story, how did you put it out there, and you’re intimating that’s the case, when it’s not?”  Because the headline said, “christians are wavering in their vote.”  The last poll taken showed that – that Black folks are going to vote about 94 percent for Pres. Barack Obama.  There’re a lot of Christians in that 94 percent.


MR. MARTIN:  So – so – so, AP said, “We stand by our story.”

I made it clear, “Associated Press, your story was wrong.”

And people out there, you’re tweeting that story.  You’re passing it around.  I – look.  I checked it.  The story’s a flat-out lie.  So, somebody need[s] to go ’head and say it, and that’s the whole point there.


MR. MARTIN:  Tat- —

MR. WILLIAMS:  — here – here –

MR. MARTIN:  — real quick.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — just real quickly, [in] Maryland last election, dirty tricks were all over the place.  They – they had people calling saying, “We got it.  Don’t worry.”  Democratic households, Black households, “Don’t vote.  It’s” – you know, “The margin’s over” – you know, “The” – “The” – “The vote is too big.  Your vote is not going to make a difference.”

MR. MARTIN:  I tell –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk] – happen.

MR. MARTIN:  — everybody, “Ignore all of that, because until the last vote is counted, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Tatyana, Jeff, Rahiel, Joe, we appreciate it.  I’m out of time.

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