Mayor Doug Palmer of Trenton, a loyal Hillary Clinton supporter, doesn’t think much of the dust-up over Clinton’s comments about how exit polls in Indiana and North Carolina showed Barack Obama’s “support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”
Palmer, one of Clinton’s highest-profile black supporters in New Jersey, refused any suggestion that she was trying to be manipulative, and said that she was only pointing out a fact that a whole host of pundits and analysts had already observed.
“She doesn’t have to say that because people already see it and know it. And her saying it is not going to make it more important,” he said, adding. “People need to step back and take a breath.”
“She just has gotten a bad rap on this,” he added. “You have 92 percent of African American voters going for him. And people said that he has black support.”
He argued Obama’s “bitter” comments were worse because they were made in a San Francisco fund-raiser. By contrast, with Clinton, he said, “It was not like she was saying something behind closed doors. She said it to the media.”
Palmer disagreed with a suspicion circulating among political observers that Clinton waited to make the explicit comments about her white support only after the states with the last significant black populations had voted because she is trying to court superdelegates “who are all colors” to win.
“She is not going to cut off her nose to spite her face,” said Palmer. He then added, though, that most the black superdelegates at this point had decided to go with Obama in a reflection of the will of their constituencies.
Palmer said that he still thought Clinton could win because superdelegates would vote for her en masse after she scored well with white, working-class voters in the remaining contests.
“If you see a demographic that you have to get in states that you have to get that she can get, and Obama can’t,” said Palmer, “and the black vote is going to come home to her, and you pick him for fear that there would be a black backlash, then where are we? We’re going to lose. Will we feel good? No.”
That said, Palmer argued that Clinton—having now “found the niche of where her support is”—was the key to Democrats taking back the White House, even if she did not emerge as the nominee and wasn’t on the ballot as vice president. (“I can’t see him choosing her,” he said.)
“If he became the nominee, she will work hard to talk about why it is important to vote for him in that demographic. Because if she is out, those people would be right now running to McCain,” said Palmer. “She is the Democratic Party’s hope to win this thing, either as the nominee or as the person who will reach out to those Reagan Democrats, which he is having a hard time getting.”