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April 7th, 2008
10:33 AM ET

Endorsements and Watermelons: Can you really compare?

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Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter joins Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton at a rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The State's Pivotal, delegate-rich primary is April 22.

When I interviewed Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter a couple of weeks ago he seemed a bit uncomfortable with all the questions about why he endorsed Hillary Clinton. After all, Nutter is African American and finds himself at the center of a debate about whether high profile African Americans should automatically be endorsing Barack Obama.
 
At the time, I asked Nutter if he felt any pressure because of his color to back Barack Obama? He told me, "This is not a campaign for high school class president—this is the campaign for the President of the U.S. I’m only hoping voters will take a lot more factors in when voting than just the issue of race...  I’m mostly under pressure from my constituents to make sure that potholes are getting filled, trash is getting picked up, and that the city is running well and proper. I understand those concerns but folks of Philadelphia, we just went through a mayor’s race, had three African-American candidates and two white candidates. I received the majority of votes of the African-American community and the white community—the first time any African-American has done that in a mayor’s race."
 
Any chance he'll change his mind? Nope. He told me, "People in the city know once I make a commitment to do something I’m going to follow through and do it. If I say I’m endorsing a candidate, I have a good reason for it and they know I’m not going to change my mind."

He quickly added,”I never asked anyone to vote for me as mayor because I’m African-American. I asked people to vote for me because I had really good ideas, because I had experience, because I had a demonstrated track record of judgment to run this city. I would certainly not expect white candidates ask whites to vote for them because of their race...
 
Well, things have certainly heated up for Mayor Nutter since our interview. Just today, the Philadelphia Inquirer posted these comments from the Mayor:  "There are no automatics in life that all black people are going to support a single black candidate in a race," Nutter said. "All black folks don't eat fried chicken or eat watermelon. When do we make some progress here?"

The Mayor is apparently bristling over what a big deal is being made about race in the campaign.  He said last week, "I didn't see people running up to Ted Kennedy, saying, 'Are you getting any pressure from supporting Sen. Obama, any backlash?' No one is asking the white elected officials if they are getting pressure for supporting the black guy."

Some history here you should know: When Nutter was running for Mayor last year, Obama took time out of his presidential run to endorse Nutter's opponent U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. It's been suggested the Mayor has "bruised feelings."

Still, Nutter has said, if Clinton does not win the nomination, "then the next day I am going to be out there, trying to help Sen. Obama."

He told me, "I have tremendous respect for Obama. He has done some really good things as a candidate and I only have the utmost respect for him."

- Randi Kaye, 360° Correspondent

Comments to the 360° blog are moderated. What does that mean?

soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. linda hemmingsen canada

    I think it is wonderful to see aafrican american like michael nutter voting for hillary it takes a brave man to say he is voting for hillary because of her experience and he thinks she would be the best for the job.So many other respectable blacks have been phoned, and harassed to change to obama or else they will not be re-elected. Thank god that people are willing to stand on the rights of a free vote, you are a democracy by the way. obma runs as a canadiate not as a black man he says but his supporters have turned this into all about race. sheild jackson lee was literly booed at a function she was trying to speak at because she was black and voting for hillary/ this is getting to be very nasty and the obama supporters have used intimination far too long.show respect for all people and their chose of who they want.

    April 7, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  2. Kim

    I understand what Nutter is going through. I am going through the same thing. I am an African American and My entire family with the exception of Myself, My sister and my Brother are Hillary Supporters and they call us sell outs, but the funny thing is we are all parents and we all have young children and all of us seperately always say that we are not voting to make history, we are voting for the future of our children, and we don't feel that Obama is the person for the job right now, but it is unbelievable how blacks automatically assume that we are supporting Obama, they will start conversations with you in reference to the campaign and ask you how do you think Obama is going to do as if it is a given that I would vote for him, but I could not in good concience vote for him, and I am not interested in making History, I am interested in Healthcare, continued Job Security, the economy, Education, etc.

    April 7, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
  3. kenny cole

    Ted Kennedy can not get pressure from his fellow WHITE man 'cos we all know it has allways WHITE affair,but just for a chance let try a BLACK man then the BLACK people will burried there RASICM

    April 7, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  4. Larry B

    A politician with a mind of his own and who does not live in a black and white world – refreshing. Kudos to the Mayor

    April 7, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  5. Michael

    Nutter,

    Why do you think people are voting for Obama? Because he is black? How do you jusitfy Clintons story about Bosnia, Ireland, the lies to Ohio about Nafta, her top advisor working for the Columbian goverment? No you should not vote for Obama because he is black. You should vote for Obama because he will put a new face on this country. How does Clinton relate to us blue collar workers? 109 million dollars. Huge donations from foreign goverments? When some investment business from from the middle east wanted to buy our ports and Mrs. Clinton ws against them...remember that? Well she and bill were taking donations and making money off of the same invester. Conflict of interest? How can Hillary say one thing to american public denouncing it and profit from it at the same time?

    April 7, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  6. Greg Miller

    It's articles like this that create problems.

    April 7, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  7. Shawn

    Mayor Nutter is absolutely right. It's rediculous that he should get any pressure for not supporting Senator Obama simply because he's the black candidate. I'm from Philadelphia and am an Obama supporter and would have loved to have Nutter support his candidacy, but the Mayor needs to support the candidate that he believes will do the best job for the country. That is the only criteria that matters.

    April 7, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  8. Christopher, McLean VA

    Mayor Micheal Nutty of Philadelphia sured not feel under pressure to endorse Barack Obama because of his race. He, like every other political official, should endorse the best candidate of their choice.

    April 7, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  9. John

    It's easy for it all to be about race when, among other things, polling begins the second one votes, noting race. Between that and religion, why does this matter, unless that is indeed what it is all about. Polling on race should be illegal, as it only serves to further divide.

    April 7, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  10. David In Des Moines

    The news media knows Americans have a very small attention span so issues like "race" and "gender" will grab readers or listeners attention. The American public has proven itself to be politically lazy and ignorant ,how else do we elect Bush for president twice?

    April 7, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  11. bb

    So, in other words Mayor Nutter, you think that a pathological liar is the best choice for president. I feel that you endorsed her mainly due to the racial issues (though you say that this is not the reason people should vote for a candidate). You did not want to be labeled as racist so you endorsed Hillary. This is still not good. Do you have plans for the rest of your political career? I happen to know that Philladelphia is Obama country.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  12. Greg

    Thank You Mr. Nutter for crossing gender and racial lines.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  13. Linda Miller

    Anderson, We are in a lot of trouble in this country, let's stick to the Solutions and not Race or Gender. Let's vote for the BEST WOMAN!!!!! She'll do the job . Let Barak go back to his Precious Pastor that hates America. I don't like his Religion, (New Earth)
    LM, KY

    April 7, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  14. Frank Biosah

    I am an African-Canadian (whatever that means) and I support Barrack Obama but I like Hilary Clinton – despite all her short comings; She is a strong and intelligent woman. I just wish they could stop all this negative campaigning that is making it increasingly impossible for them to have a joint ticket – with Hilary as a vice president of course. It will be a victory for American democracy.

    Anderson, I must say that I am kind of disappointed in you; off all CNN programs, yours dwells more on race and gender in this race than any else. You diminish the importance of this election by so doing. Please focus on the issues.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  15. Damon

    He should be able to support whoever he wants. I'm an African American and I would hold no grudge against him if I lived in Philly. In the next election, I would judge him on HIS record as mayor and HIS accomplishments, not for who he supported in some election. Anything less would be an injustice to Mayor Nutter.

    He should have picked some better words to use than "fried chicken" and "watermelon". That was a poor choice of words, although I realize where he's coming from.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  16. Deb - Canada

    Interesting that the writer had to mention that he might have bruised feelings. Even when it is clear this man feels Clinton is the best candidate you try to bring in some other reason for his support. Anti Clinton biased reporting is rampant in the media.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Brenda in Cherry Hill NJ

    The Commonwealth is a dirty political machine from Philly to Erie and all points in between. Nutter is under Rendell's thumb. Rendell wants to be Hills VP and his wife to be put on the Supreme Court.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  18. Willie

    I don't understand why Randi Kaye or the rest of the media for that matter is making a big deal about an African-American endorsing a white woman. CNN just wants Mayor Nutter to endorse Obama so it would make Clinton look bad. This media bias is killing me. By the way CNN, the senator of Pennsylvania endorsed Obama because his father hated Bill Clinton. How about that for news.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  19. nilq

    Stop playing the race card Cooper it's not about race, It's about principle, standing for what you believe. I am black and I support Hillary.

    April 7, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  20. Roy

    I wish everyone would think of the candidates as RED BLOODED Americans who have a slight difference of opinion. The whole world is not all Black and White, some of it is Red ALL OVER!

    Vote for the Red person of your choice!

    Roy-Id

    April 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  21. Steve

    I totally agree. Just because the mayor is black doesn't mean he should support Barrack simply of the basis of his race. If such was the case, Barrack Obama wouldn't be where he is today. I don't recall too many African Americans who live in Iowa. Hence, though i'm an Obama voter and an Haitian-African-American, i respect the mayor's choice and opinion in this matter. On a bigger spectrum, I think it goes to show a broader aspect of our progress in this country. We're becoming more educated to look above and beyong the color purple.

    Long Live Obama!

    April 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  22. D Hartman

    I agree with Naomi. If high profile Democrats are scolded for not backing Obama, then that makes the this into an issue of race. Clinton or Obama should win the nomination on merit not race.

    April 7, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  23. D Williams, Miami

    For someone who doesn't want the race to be about race, Nutter has spent a lot of time trying to deliver black voters to Clinton, a double speak that makes his namesake startling apropos.

    April 7, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  24. georgie

    i say good for nutter. i am a clinton supporter and i agree. i think anyone gets pressure and we shouldn't. we can make up our own minds. as far as obama, i had my doubts and then like many americans first came his wife and then wright, and that was the end for me!!!

    April 7, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  25. Karl

    Watermelon?

    April 7, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  26. Kent, Illinois

    Nutter is playing politics. He likes the fact that the "white" vote in Philadelphia went his way and helped elect him. And, why wouldn't he. Pennsylvania will go to Hillary over Obama. He can then say he went "with" his constituents. Deep down he is very, very, happy about Obama.

    April 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  27. Mike

    I like this guy... he does not fold to the pressure and is making his choice based on information... AC360 needs to start looking into this pressure from Obama supporters... this is not the first time this story has come to light... I believe it happened in Atlanta and again in Ohio... my question is why this is not being reported as much as the behind the lines talk of Clinton supporters to superdelegates...

    Obama should be covered just as much as Clinton... it is sad that it took a poll to show that Clinton is getting 47% negative story lines compared to Obama 17%...

    I guess a woman really can not get a fair shot in our country!!!

    April 7, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  28. gerry

    Why is this a story? Why aren't you pressing Hillary to release the list of donors to their charity and presidential library along with her earmarks.

    Whatever happened to CNN being journalists? You're favoring Hillary to keep her in the race instead of true reporting.

    Pathertic journalism.

    April 7, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
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