President Barack Obama didn’t give Rep. Charlie Rangel an endorsement in today’s election, but that didn’t stop supporters of the longtime congressman’s re-election bid from peppering Harlem with flyers featuring a huge picture of the president embracing Mr. Rangel as voters headed to the polls. The flyer describes Mr. Rangel as “a key leader in passing Obama’s healthcare law.”
Throughout this campaign, Mr. Rangel has both publicly and privately expressed a desire to earn the president’s endorsement. However, though the president has endorsed other congressional candidates, the White House has repeatedly declined to weigh in on Mr. Rangel’s race. In 2008, Mr. Rangel endorsed President Obama’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary, Hillary Clinton. Two years later, as Mr. Rangel was about to be censured for ethics violations by the House, President Obama gave an interview in which he described the ethical flap as “very troubling” and said he hoped Mr. Rangel would choose to “end his career with dignity.”
Mr. Rangel’s supporters in his home political club, the Martin Luther King Jr. Democrats also distributed another election day flyer featuring smaller pictures of Mr. Rangel with President Obama and with President Clinton as well as other leaders. President Clinton taped a birthday message for Mr. Rangel earlier this month, but he also hasn’t given any official endorsement in the race.
Mr. Rangel isn’t the only candidate in the race for whom flyers have been issued implying the support of Presidents Obama and Clinton. Campaign For Our Future, a super PAC that’s supporting Mr. Rangel’s rival, Clyde Williams, sent out mailers that said, “Barack Obama isn’t supporting Charlie Rangel. Why should we?,” but they also disseminated Spanish-language mailers that said “Obama and Clinton support Clyde.” Another one of Mr. Rangel’s opponents, Adriano Espaillat, has also used President Obama’s image on his flyers.
The White House press office referred our questions about Mr. Rangel’s flyer to President Obama’s re-election campaign. As of this writing, the Obama campaign has not responded to multiple requests for a comment on this story.