Russell Simmons Joins the Obama Campaign - Page 2 of 3

Russell Simmons Joins the Obama Campaign

We did things for the poor while people were struggling. President Clinton has helped me with global initiatives. He introduced me to people and helped me out a lot with my Diamond Empowerment Fund, an organization that raised $8 million last year to build schools in Africa. I’m a New Yorker. I had a very high profile fundraiser at my house and I helped get Sen. Clinton elected to the NY Senate. It created a good platform for her early on.

But I resigned from the Hip Hop Summit Action Network as chairman so that I could work with Obama, because the Hip Hop Summit does nonpartisan work. I resigned during the primaries so that I can be a vocal advocate for the Obama campaign some time ago.

We have to put leadership in place that promotes the kind of world we would like to see.  Sen. Obama for me represents that choice. I think for many of us, it’s nice to see someone of color in office that represents this next generation and a different view of the world to some degree, but it’s his policies and ideas about governing this world that makes him the better candidate.

BE: Give me an example of the policies and ideas that make Sen. Obama the better candidate for America and for African American people

RS: His economic policies as they pertain to people in poverty. The tax breaks he talks about. The promotion of a better opportunity for education. Letting common folks have an opportunity.  These things are obvious for people suffering in poverty. The idea of engaging our European partners and everyone in a dialogue that makes good sense.

After 9/11 we had a chance to promote World peace and instead we promoted a greater cycle of violence. That was our chance after 9/11, but we made very bad choices. I don’t think any democrat would have done that much work to create such deception to make us believe it was okay to go in Iraq. But Sen. Obama wasn’t fooled by it. He was against it. I thought always and Sen. Obama thought always that it was a bad choice and I think that shows good vision.

BE: What would a John McCain presidency look like in your opinion?

RS: John McCain has always shown he has a bad temper. He voted 90% of the time with George Bush. We have all of these examples of the kind of prosperity we had with President Clinton. On the other hand we have all of these examples of the kind of struggle that was created with President George Bush. John McCain is like four more years of George Bush. I don’t think we can take it. The world can’t take it.

BE: In terms of the people who you are trying to speak to, what do you think is the most important message that you can give to them?