Two key Obama Administration officials visited Atlanta on Wednesday for a town hall discussion hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed and featuring some area notables.
The “Winning the Future” Community Town Hall was an extension effort of the White House to engage the Atlanta community, particularly African-Americans, ahead of the 2012 election season. With budget battles underway in Washington, D.C., the Administration is determined to get out its message and shore up support from the black community, one of the president’s most loyal constituencies.
Reed was joined by White House officials Michael Strautmanis, the counselor for Strategic Engagement, and Michael Blake, the director of African-American and Minority Business Outreach. Local radio personalities Frank Ski and Dr. Lorraine Jacques White of WVEE-FM and WAOK-AM, respectively, also joined the town hall panel. Tracey-Ann Nelson, the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Georgia participated as well.
The event was mainly attended by African-Americans seeking ways to engage themselves and their communities with the White House. Obama’s support from the black community, who elected him with a 95 percent margin in 2008, has fallen somewhat in recent years to 85 percent. In Georgia’s general election nearly three years ago, President Obama lost to Sen. John McCain (R), by a margin of 52-47 percent.
Blake and Strautmanis made their case on behalf of the president by reminding people of the progress made in several areas – such as jobs and education – and how important that continued progress is to the larger black community.
“We need to make it plain for folks that a lot of things are happening now,” Blake emphasized.
“People have made it clear that they don’t want this man to be successful. When we walked in, 760,000 jobs were being lost a month. Now we are creating 200,000 jobs a month, so clearly something is working,” he added.
In addition to the White House officials, Mayor Reed made it quite clear that he fully supports the president’s current work and bid for re-election. Strautmanis reminded the audience that the feeling is mutual for Reed from President Obama. Reed says that he will hit the road next year to campaign for President Obama around the country.
The town hall effort is tied into a larger effort by the White House Office of African-American engagement. They launched a website that features blog posts and current news related to the black community and the White House. It boasts the “Winning the Future” theme that is popular with the president. Most recently, the site features fact sheets related to the FY 2012 budget efforts, updates on events from African-Americans in the Administration, and future plans for African-American families.