Stephanopoulos: Those Against Obama Because He's Black Won't Vote for Any Democrat

Reminiscent of Bryant Gumbel's 1989 charge on the Today show that you're either “a racist or a liberal,” on Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos presumed only Republicans are racists who will not vote for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who had an African father. During the roundtable, Sam Donaldson proposed that the country is ready for an African-American President, but noted how “he said he thinks he'll lose some votes because of that, and so the question is what does the word 'some' mean? In critical elections, not just in the South, it may mean something.” Moderator Stephanopoulos then jumped in: “I guess I think that anyone who's not going to vote for Barack Obama because he is black isn't going to vote for a Democrat anyway.” Donaldson, however, soon explained that he was referring to Democratic primary voters: “But I'm talking about the race for the nomination.”

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Back on the September 5, 1989 Today show on NBC, previewing his prime-time special, “The Racial Attitudes and Consciousness Exam (RACE),” Bryant Gumbel asserted: “This test is not going to tell you whether you’re a racist or a liberal.”

The May 13 This Week opened with a pre-taped interview of Obama conducted by Stephanopoulos. The relevant portion of the roundtable panel, with Cokie Roberts and George Will in addition to Donaldson and Stephanopoulos, in which Donaldson referred back to the interview:
Sam Donaldson: “You raised something, let's just put on the table: He's an African-American. Is the country ready? Well, I think it is. And he said he thinks it is. He said he thinks he'll lose some votes because of that, and so the question is what does the word 'some' mean? In critical elections, not just in the South, it may mean something.”

Cokie Roberts: “Well sure. And it could be huge. But I think the fact that we're having this conversation is just wonderful. I mean, the idea that we are at this point in 2007, if you had told us that 40 years ago when we were having all the civil rights debates that we would be talking very seriously about a black man being President of the United States in 2008, we would not have believed it.”

George Stephanopoulos: “Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm naive, but Sam I guess I think that anyone who's not going to vote for Barack Obama because he is black isn't going to vote [Roberts says at this instant “Democratic”] for a Democrat anyway. And I wonder if there are as many people who will vote for him-”

George Will: “More.”

Stephanopoulos: “That's the question.”

Will: “The place where Barack Obama really helps is in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, right outside Philadelphia.”

Stephanopoulos: “Exactly.”

Will: “Moderate, mainstream swing district where it makes people feel good.”

Donaldson: “You already made him the nominee.”

Stephanopoulos: “Not yet Sam.”

Donaldson: “But I'm talking about the race for the nomination. Now, many states have crossovers I understand, but the states in which you have to be a Democrat in order to vote in the Democratic primary, that's where- [talked over.]”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center