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Washington Matters

Obama To Speak Out on Race Issue

Barack Obama told reporters today he would make a major speech addressing the role of race in the presidential election. It's the right move and the right time, as we noted last week.

Obama made a strong start late Friday when he categorically denounced his long-time pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for blaming the U.S. for all sorts of the world's woes. But the statement wasn't enough to stop the criticism, and there's more at issue here than just Wright's comments.

If Obama is to win the Democratic nomination, let alone the election, he has to do a better job of reaching out to white blue collar men, especially those in racially mixed areas or industries, many of whom have been reluctant to vote for him. Dan Balz, the savvy Washington Post political writer, has an excellent analysis of the trends and the reasons in today's paper. Balz makes the point that Obama does well in all-white and all-black areas, but not so well in mixed areas, especially when there is great economic uncertainty.

One speech won't be enough to resolve the issue, but it could get a serious debate started -- one that goes beyond the name-calling and innuendo that has become all too common.


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