Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss factors that angered African-Americans and what both campaigns failed to address during the 2012 election cycle.
This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features Democratic strategist and MSNBC contributor Karen Finney, Republican strategist Elroy Sailor, Deborah Simmons of “The Washington Times,” and Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Hughes.
MR. MARTIN: All right, folks. Welcome back.
You know, panel, I love when folks get stuck on stupid, and Carl Rove surely was –
MS. FINNEY: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: — stuck on stupid this week. How could this man go on Fox News and say that President Obama suppressed the vote?
MS. FINNEY: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: All of the stuff Republicans tried across this country! And it was interesting. You had some of the – one of the trending topics on Twitter was “stayinline.” We talk about “holding the line.”
SEN. HUGHES: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
MR. MARTIN: Bla- — I – I’ve been saying it, and I wrote about it this week. Black folks were so ticked off – I told Cornell this. They were so ticked off, that – that the Republicans fired up black folks in your state of Pennsylvania –
SEN. HUGHES: Oh, absolutely!
MR. MARTIN: — in Ohio –
SEN. HUGHES: Ooh.
MR. MARTIN: — in Florida. You had brothers and sisters in Florida, even after the race was called, and it was raining –
SEN. HUGHES: Um-hum.
MR. MARTIN: — they said, “I ain’t leavin’!”
MS. FINNEY: [Chuckles.]
SEN. HUGHES: Um-hum, um-hum.
MS. FINNEY: And you know, to his credit, Cornell actually called this about eight months ago. His polling showed that the more the Republicans were attacking President Obama, the voter suppression stuff and [the] more the – racialized the language became, the more the enthusiasm in the African-American and Latino community – black and brown communities – went up. And the Republicans totally missed it.
MR. MARTIN: Elroy, every time Donald Trump opened his mouth, black folks –
SEN. HUGHES: Oh, boy. [Crosstalk.]
MR. MARTIN: — got ticked off.
SEN. HUGHES: That’s right.
MR. MARTIN: Every – when John Sununu –
MS. FINNEY: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: — had the audacity to denigrate a four-star general who has served four presidents by saying, “Oh, he only endorsed him because he’s black,” polling data – and the exit polls showed that that helped with independent voters. And so the Republican Party really helped the President, because let me tell you something. The campaign – there was some worry about enthusiasm among those base voters in ’08.
What the heck was the GOP doin’?
MR. SAILOR: Well, you know, Carl Rove’s a smart guy – back to that first point – but every –
MR. MARTIN: Some –
MR. SAILOR: — now –
MR. MARTIN: — smart people [are] dumb!
MR. SAILOR: — every now and then, everybody throws some mud on the wall and hopes something sticks. So, that was what he was doing in the eleventh hour.
All right. John Sununu and Donald Trump and all those guys – they were playing to the base. That was smart politics from their perspective.
MR. MARTIN: Oh, yeah, but they also played to Obama’s base; and it –
MR. SAILOR: Right. They – they –
MR. MARTIN: — backfired big time!
MR. SAILOR: — turned out the base.
Now – now, here’s the challenge, again – and going back to Karen’s point. And I’mma – I’mma keep beating this horse. Four years ago – ei- — I’m sorry. Eight years ago, we had the big debate at the Apollo with the Democrats. Where was the debate on urban issues? It did not happen, my friends. We didn’t talk about unemployment being double digits in Pennsyl- — in Philadelphia, in Detroit, in Compton, in Cleveland, in Baltimore. We didn’t talk about gas prices – how impacts. We didn’t talk about home – housing prices being depressed in these urban areas. We didn’t talk about schools closing down. Detroit had tw- — 21-something schools eight years ago. Now they’re down to nine, cut in half.
There was no debate on either side of the aisle, and we pushed Republicans to say, “Come up with an urban agenda.”
SEN. HUGHES: Yeah, that’s right. R- Mitt –
MR. SAILOR: That’s where President –
SEN. HUGHES: — Romney didn’t –
MR. SAILOR: — Obama is weak.
SEN. HUGHES: — Mitt Romney didn’t discuss –
MR. SAILOR: President Obama –
SEN. HUGHES: — any of that at all.
MR. SAILOR: — was weak on an –
SEN. HUGHES: He didn’t discuss any of that –
MR. SAILOR: — urban agenda.
SEN. HUGHES: — at all.
MR. MARTIN: In fact, Mitt Romney only gave one interview with a black news outlet, and that was “Black Enterprise.”
MS. FINNEY: But – [crosstalk] –
MS. SIMMONS: It – it – and, see – [crosstalk] –
MS. FINNEY: — [crosstalk] –
MS. SIMMONS: — it –
MS. FINNEY: — but what the Ryan budget would actually do, in all – [crosstalk] –
MS. FINNEY: — [crosstalk] – agenda.
MR. SAILOR: [Crosstalk] – Republicans gambled –
MS. FINNEY: [Chuckles.]
MR. SAILOR: — that there was going to be enough of the base to turn out. They gambled that African-Americans and minorities were not –
MR. MARTIN: And they lost.
MR. SAILOR: — going to turn out, and we –
MR. MARTIN: And – [crosstalk] –
MR. SAILOR: — lost big time.
MR. MARTIN: He crapped out.
MR. SAILOR: But at the end of the day –
MR. MARTIN: [Crosstalk] –
MR. SAILOR: — who – and who – and who’s the real loser, though?
MR. MARTIN: Deborah.
MR. SAILOR: Are the coalitions that supported Obama?
MS. SIMMONS: No. The urban coalitions are always the loser. I mean we –
MR. SAILOR: That’s my point!
MS. SIMMONS: — Detroit, D.C., Philly.
MR. SAILOR: Those are the losers.
MS. SIMMONS: Come on, guys!
MR. SAILOR: The Republican –
MS. SIMMONS: W- — we’re –
MR. SAILOR: — Party will rebound.
MS. SIMMONS: — we’re the ones – we’re the very ones who, when you look at whether even the Bush tax – the “fiscal cliff,” who’s going to fall off the cliff? Practically 88 percent of households in this city – in – in this country will be affected if those tax cuts are not kept in force, or there’s a compromise between Republicans and Democrats in Congress –
MR. MARTIN: Speaking of –
MS. SIMMONS: — as to what’s –
MR. MARTIN: — that –
MS. SIMMONS: — as – as to what’s going to –
MR. MARTIN: — speaking –
MS. SIMMONS: — happen.
MR. MARTIN: — of that, here’s what President Barack Oba- —
MS. SIMMONS: But we put all of our eggs in that one basket, remember.
MR. MARTIN: — well – well, first of all, President Barack Obama spoke about this issue.
MS. SIMMONS: [Crosstalk.]
MR. MARTIN: So, here – here he is talking about compromise.
[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]
PRES. OBAMA: And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.
By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock, or solve all our problems, or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.
[END OF VIDEO CLIP.]
MR. MARTIN: Now, the President talked about that. In terms of the next step, where will African-Americans be to ensure that we’re not left on the doorstep when it comes to the negotiations that are going to take place between President Obama [and] House Republicans, as well as the Senate?
SEN. HUGHES: I – I think our responsibility is to continue the same – with the in same – same level of intensity that we did in the campaign through this public policy conversation and make sure that we advocate for the issues that directly impact our community and make sure that when we have infrastructure conversations, that infras- — and reinvesting in the infrastructure, that the infrastructure is redefined as urban neighborhoods and small cities which are dying dramatically and need –
MR. MARTIN: But, Karen –
SEN. HUGHES: — and need – [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: — are black –
SEN. HUGHES: — investment.
MR. MARTIN: — are black folks, though, going to press this President? Are they going to press Democrats in Congress and the Senate to ensure that, if there’s a compromise, we are not compromised?
MS. FINNEY: We[’d] better. And I think we need to actually find common cause with Latinos, and together – because remember the very important message out of this election was nobody can win a national election without black and brown voters – period. The Democratic Party is as much on notice about that, frankly, as the Republican Party. I mean President Obama proved that twice now – right? So, we have this moment in time where we can leverage that power. And if we don’t, that’s on us.
So, yes. We need to be at the table, and we need to make sure that we are applying the outside pressure o- — and holding our elected leaders accountable while they go through these negotiations – not just to make sure that we don’t fall off the cliff, but to make sure that actually the things we care about are on the table in the first place –
MS. SIMMONS: The things we want!
MS. FINNEY: — as part of the conversation.
MS. SIMMONS: Absolutely. The things we want – which is why I hope Cornell doesn’t have to look for a job, because you need somebody like that –
SEN. HUGHES: He’s going to be working. Don’t –
MS. SIMMONS: — inside – [laughs] –
SEN. HUGHES: — worry about that. Cornell will be working.
MS. SIMMONS: — no. You need –
SEN. HUGHES: Guaranteed.
MS. SIMMONS: — you need – you nee- — you still need numbers like that to know exactly where –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MS. SIMMONS: — programs will be targeted.
MR. MARTIN: All right, folks. Karen, Elroy, Deborah, Senator Hughes, we appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.