that has apparently been forgotten by the Bush administration — public education. Sharpton, who proposes a $2 an hour increase in the minimum wage, says America should address the disparities in the criminal justice system, eliminate racial profiling, and make sure that judges appointed to the bench are not insensitive to women and people of color. “Too many political figures want to direct public resources to private education through vouchers,” says Sharpton. “We cannot afford to write off the majority of America’s children that way. And I would have a foreign policy that recognizes that we are part of the global village. America should be an international healer not a bully.”
As the candidates stake out their positions on the issues, it will take more than a well crafted message to carry one of them to the Democratic convention in Boston next year. With Al Gore, the Democrat’s standard-bearer in 2000, out of the running, the race for the nomination is wide open. But Sharpton and Moseley Braun face special challenges. Both are party outsiders. And neither has access to the big money sources that other candidates can tap.
Even though it is early in the campaign, Moseley Braun, a newcomer in the race, must play catch-up. “She has to mature as a candidate. This includes developing a national campaign organization,” says Ronald Walters, professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.
Donna L. Brazile, a senior Democratic strategist and Gore’s former campaign manager, urged African American leaders to run as favorite sons and daughters in their states to potentially lock up the black vote. She adds that “Moseley Braun will have difficulty competing for a talented and experienced campaign staff that tends to seek out candidates perceived to have a better chance.”
Walters says Braun has the added problem of convincing poll-goers to vote for a woman. He notes that white women did not support black former New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in her 1972 bid for the White House.
But Moseley Braun has clear advantages, including such standard credentials as a law degree, a term in the U.S. Senate, and a stint as ambassador to New Zealand. Moseley Braun asserts that her experience is on par with or superior to the other presidential candidates. “I’m running on my qualifications,” she says, “I am the only former diplomat in the race, and as a former state representative and Cook County recorder of deeds, I’m the only one with both state and local government experience.”
Brazile says that Moseley Braun’s service in the Senate, much like a governorship, makes her a member of an exclusive club as it places her in the pipeline for national office. Brazile asked rhetorically, “Who wins a Senate seat and says, ‘That’s as far as I’m going?'” The former senator has experience running and winning a statewide office in Illinois that has a more diverse population and is bigger than any of the states that the other candidates hail from except Florida.
Sharpton is the only candidate who has never