may define the direction of the nation for a generation or more.
With his galvanizing message of hope and change, Obama, 46, has presented Americans with the real possibility of electing a black man as president. Over the past year, he has created an energy and excitement unmatched by any other presidential contender, bringing together diverse sectors of the electorate–black, white, Latino; young, old; blue collar, white collar. In fact, Ted Sorenson, speechwriter and special adviser for President John F. Kennedy, _another candidate considered a transformative force in presidential politics when he ran in 1960, hails Obama “the new JFK.”
With the approach of primary season, black enterprise _followed Obama on the campaign trail, interviewing him about his platform and his chances. We also spent months talking with pundits, political analysts, party activists, and supporters to gain greater insight into his election strategy and connection with voters. In identifying six key factors, be demonstrates why Obama has the right stuff to win the Oval Office.
1: A MESSAGE FOR ALL PEOPLE
On the stump, Obama has been extremely effective in connecting with a cross section of _voters and framing his message of fixing America’s _problems without the usual Beltway _response. He has hit on universal themes that resonate with voters across racial, gender, and demographic lines, an approach necessary for a black candidate to be elected.
“The black candidate must speak to the issues that are top-of-mind of the voting population,” maintains Bruce Gordon, former president and CEO of the NAACP. “To be viable, the candidate must speak to the issues that African Americans, Caucasians, and Latinos care about. In addition to the war, domestic issues such as education and employment are top-of-mind in these communities.”
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy _organization, has noted Obama’s outreach to the Hispanic community: “I think Obama has advocated on a number of issues that are important to Hispanic voters. I was pleased that he was able to attend our national conference and talk about some of the issues we are concerned about, including education, healthcare, and immigration. Reaching out to the Hispanic community is a very important part of his campaign. He has been very thoughtful in trying to draw some parallels between the African American community and the Hispanic community in terms of the issues we have in common.”
Moreover, he has been successful in garnering enormous support from divergent constituencies, including Hollywood, the Bible Belt, and corporate America. “Obama has an ability to excite audiences around the country, and that gives him a better chance of winning in November than his opponents,” says Sorensen.
Obama also believes his message will prevail. “I think all indications are that we are in a good position to win this race,” he says. “We are tied in Iowa, and we cut Sen. Clinton’s lead in half in New Hampshire because we started running television ads and getting out the message to let people know my agenda.”