On Tuesday, during a call with representatives of the online African American community, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said that the White House is targeting unlikely African American voters heading into the midterms.
During the thirty minute call, Ms. Jarrett admitted, “Those who have been supportive of [President Obama] may not view midterm elections as important. That is why the President has been making the case on the national level, in addition to saying how important the election is generally.”
Traditionally, the African American constituency tend to vote more in national presidential elections, and do not turn out significantly during midterms and state and local elections.
The call was part of an ongoing effort by the White House to engage black bloggers and African American media outlets to share the ‘good news’ about the work Democrats are doing to rally the base of African American voters, 5 million of whom came out to vote Obama into office in 2008.
Jarrett said that the Obama Administration has been joining forces with the Democratic National Committee to galvanize people to vote, and push those that have or will likely vote to knock on neighbor’s doors and encourage family members and co-workers to also vote.
According to Jarrett, the view from the street is that people are actually getting energized about the midterms and being moved by their support for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. She shared a story about Michelle Obama’s influence on the trail, pointing out that after Ms. Obama traveled to Chicago to early vote, the city experienced a spike among residents also wanting to early vote.
In response to a question about the administration’s plans to address the nearly double digit unemployment rate among African Americans nationally, Jarrett noted that the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act created over 3 million jobs that would not have been there had the President not pushed for the stimulus package. She also noted that the President’s community college initiative is targeted toward those who, perhaps, cannot afford or get into a four-year institution but are still interested in making themselves more competitive in today’s job market. The administration has been encouraging African Americans to take advantage of community colleges.
She said a second investment in construction, manufacturing and retail industries will also create jobs but that the President would have a difficult time passing the measure without the support of members in Congress that will help promote his agenda.
“Republicans want to cut education by 20%,” Jarrett said. “The only way to stop them from returning to the way things were before the president was elected and to return to the old Bush era ways is to not sit out this election.”
The call with Jarrett preceded a national call with leaders of the Black community, held yesterday evening, which was headlined by an address from the President, and featured the Reverend Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, Donna Brazile, and singer Yolanda Adams.