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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2585

Obama Confronts Racial Issue in Major Speech

By Philip Fernando in Los Angeles for Asian Tribune

Los Angeles, 19 March, ( The most comprehensive exposition of race relations surfaced as Senator Barrack Obama addressed the voters near the historic site in Philadelphia, the US Constitution Center, called the birthplace of America. While distancing himself from statements by his longtime pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, that have aggravated racial divisions in the contentious Democratic primary battle, he urged both sides to tone down their rhetoric.

He may have succeeded in calming the uproar over racially tinged sermons by Pastor Wright. Obama lost 17 points in his approval rating in the country since Pastor Wright’s comments received wide TV coverage.

Wright had been Obama's pastor for nearly 20 years until retiring recently, and officiated at Obama's wedding and baptized his two daughters. His inflammatory statements have been cited by Obama detractors, including comments that blacks continue to be mistreated by whites and a suggestion that U.S. foreign policy may have helped bring on the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama was addressing supporters at the National Constitution Center while giving a comprehensive account of the race relations in the US citing specific examples of both lower and higher points of achievements between different racial groups in the country. He said the time was ripe for the country to go past the racial divide and work towards solving the pressing need of the people.

Jen Psaki, an Obama spokeswoman, said that Obama wanted to deliver the speech because "the issue of race has received an enormous amount of attention" over the past few weeks and "he thought it was an appropriate moment to discuss his thoughts on the issue."

Obama, seeking to be the first black U.S. president, has been calling on Democrats to look past racial divisions and to guard against intemperate rhetoric that he says has been sprouting on both sides.

Meanwhile, a fore-taste of things that might come up at the Democratic National Convention surfaced today when Texas State Democratic Party denied a request by Clinton's campaign that it take extra steps to verify the signatures of election night caucus-goers before party conventions being held at the end of the month. State chairman Boyd Richie said Texas Democrats will not "set up an unnecessary, ad hoc 'verification' process that could effectively disqualify delegates selected at their precinct conventions after the fact."

An estimated 1 million people attended Democratic caucuses after the party's presidential primary concluded March 4. Those caucuses began the process of choosing 67 pledged delegates to the party's national convention in Denver in August.

Clinton's campaign, in a letter to the state party Friday, said it wanted the signatures of those attending caucuses double-checked before county and state Senate district convention convene on March 29. Richie said the party conventions already have rules in place to address complaints and problems.

Clinton's campaign said it received more than 2,000 complaints of violations following the historic turnout on March 4, and that it is the party's responsibility to ensure the integrity of the caucus process. Among the problems cited were caucuses starting before precinct polling places closed and results being taken from head or hand counts instead of a written roll.

In an unofficial and incomplete caucus tally, the state Democratic Party reported Barrack Obama was ahead of Clinton with 56 percent to her 44 percent, after reports from 41 percent of precinct caucuses.

Clinton and Obama campaigned in Pennsylvania and were hoping to get a record turnout at the forthcoming primary in four weeks. For Hillary it would be a crucial vote that will either enable to pursue her campaign vigorously or pave the way for a, Obama win eventually. The demographics in Pennsylvania are similar to Ohio and some believe that Clinton may have a victory coming her way. Obama camp is campaigning hard and the tussle for supremacy would be quite intense.

Pennsylvania Democrats have added more than 65,000 voters to their rolls since last fall. The number of Democrats increased 1.7 percent — from 3,883,378 in November to 3,948,775 as of March 4. Republican enrollment grew by 0.1 percent, from 3,245,271 to 3,248,583, during the period.

- Asian Tribune -

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