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even if supporters believe Clinton and Edwards are being held to the same standard. “I think they focus on it because I’m new on the national scene, so a lot of people don’t know my track record,” he said in an exclusive interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE. “They don’t know that while in the Illinois Senate, I passed racial profiling legislation or that I passed significant reforms to the death penalty or dealt with issues facing ex-offenders trying to straighten out their lives or that I was an attorney on voting rights cases to make sure that African Americans and Hispanics could vote. As people get more familiar with my track record, a lot of these rumblings will fade away.”
David Bositis, an elections expert at the Washington, D.C.-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, claims that, right or wrong, “Hillary’s record is evaluated as the same as her husband’s and he is very popular with African Americans,” acknowledges Bositis. However, Bill Clinton’s record with blacks is viewed by some as a mixed bag. Though he vigorously defended affirmative action and appointed blacks to key cabinet positions during his administration, he also passed the 1994 crime bill that included the “three strikes you’re out” provision, causing an increase in the black prison population. It was also during the Clinton era that the Rwandan genocide took place, killing nearly 1 million Rwandan citizens. The administration did nothing to stop the bloodshed. In looking at Hillary Clinton’s own record on civil rights, she has co-sponsored civil rights legislation including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Edwards’ record, including as a trial lawyer, is considered good, and even better is his emphasis on poverty,” says Bositis. Edwards now heads the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Further, while serving in the U.S. Senate for six years, he pushed policy initiatives such as raising the minimum wage, creating matched savings accounts for low-income families, and providing incentives for teachers to teach in low-income schools.
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