November 16, 2007

Hillary’s No. 2: A Good-Looking, Military Progressive from the South

By Peter Micek
New America Media


Editor’s Note: Good looks, Midwestern values and a military background are the characteristics voters are looking for in Sen. Hillary Clinton’s running mate, according to editors from across the U.S. ethnic media landscape. New America Media asked some of its partners for their predictions about whom the Senator from New York should choose if she wins the Democratic primary.

A “double minority” ticket made up of Sen. Hillary Clinton and an ethnic running mate has captured the imaginations of editors from some of the top ethnic media outlets in the country.

Obama is the most eye-catching on the Democratic side, according to William Que, chief editor of the Burlingame, Calif. edition of China Press, who says the pairing would be historic if they win.

Obama would win over African-American voters, and Clinton is popular among the Chinese as a result of her quick and positive response to the Chinese press, says Que, referring to the special press conference Clinton held in San Francisco for the Asian American media earlier this year. The event followed an incident in which reporters from two major Chinese-language newspapers were denied entry into a Clinton fundraiser when her staffers reportedly mistook them for members of the “foreign press.” The campaign later apologized for the gaffe.

Change is in the air, according to Kang Kyu Lee, the national section editor of the Korea Times in Los Angeles. A swing voter block of women and minorities could decide next year’s election, he says, so the best option for Democrats is a “Clinton-Obama” team.

But many editors doubt whether Americans are ready for such a ticket.

Aziz Haniffa, managing editor of India Abroad, a 35-year-old nationwide Indian-American newspaper owned by Rediff.com, is uncertain about Obama’s chances. “It’s highly unlikely that Barack would be the running mate. Americans would have a hard time coming around to, first, accepting and voting for a woman president — but a woman president and an African-American running mate would be a stretch in terms of how progressive the American psyche has become.”

Another “unelectable” – but “great” – choice, says Askia Muhammad, senior correspondent in Washington, D.C., for the Nation of Islam’s Final Call newspaper, would be Anthony Brown, the lieutenant governor of Maryland and an African American.

“He’s an ex-military, a lawyer, a state legislator for 10 or 12 years, and is as good-looking as Barack Obama,” says Muhammad. “But (Clinton) couldn’t be elected with someone like him. That would be a death knell.”

Muhammad paints a picture that American voters, he says, are not ready to accept: a black male in succession if the president becomes incapacitated.

On screen during the pre-sident’s State of the Union speech, Muhammad says, are the Speaker of the House and the vice president. Condoleezza Rice is the first person other than a white male to show up in that power trio, he says. “Blacks have a few breakthroughs recently.”

But there’s a pattern, he says, where minority candidates who are thought to have a clear advantage suddenly face opposition when they announce their candidacy. “In Obama’s race, and even before him, (former Illinois Sen.) Carol Moseley Braun ran against a Republican who was given no chance (at winning), until Moseley Braun got the nomination.”

“There’s a closet racism in all of this,” he says.

Traditional gender roles, too, are hard to break. “Even with Republicans shooting themselves in the foot,” Muhammad says, “when (Clinton) gets the nomination, all of a sudden a Republican candidate will jump 10 points. People say, ‘Oh sure, we’ll have a woman president,’ but in their hearts, in the secrets of the voting booth, something else happens.”

Because an “uncomfortable” relationship has developed between Clinton and Obama during the campaign – Clinton called Obama’s foreign policy statements at a July debate “irresponsible and naïve” – it is unlikely you will see them standing next to each other at a press conference to announce the political alliance, adds Lee of the Korea Times.

In that case, Lee says, “a viable alternate is Bill Richardson of New Mexico.” The governor, he believes, would deliver Hispanic votes.


Governor Bill Richardson.

“Obama and Richardson would represent a wider commitment with the minority vote, which will be very important in this election,” says Jesus del Toro, managing editor of Spanish-language Rumbo Newspapers, a Texas chain based in San Antonio.

But Edwards might appeal to the party’s more traditional voting ranks who don’t want to vote for a “double minority” ticket, he adds.

“Hillary represents a minority – even though women, in terms of numbers, are actually the majority – and Obama and Richardson (are) another kind of minority.”

Haniffa of India Abroad says sources tell him that Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana is also in the running.

“(Bayh) was the first off the block to run for the Democratic nomination and raised a lot of money in those first few months before Hillary decided to jump in the race,” Haniffa says. Then Bayh threw in his lot with Clinton, accompanying her to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

“Besides,” the editor adds, “he is a well-liked Midwesterner who is a centrist and not an East Coast liberal.”

Jerry Sullivan, editor and publisher of the multicultural Los Angeles Garment and Citizen Weekly, says Clinton’s strategists should look to the South.

With Senate and national security experience, he says, Sen. Jim Webb from Virginia would be a good running mate for Clinton. “(Webb) would geographically balance the ticket,” Sullivan says, and is “less liberal than Clinton.”

Assuming Clinton wins the nomination, Muhammad adds, “she’ll pick a white male (running mate), but her best bet is someone who is progressive and not one of these ‘Neanderthal’ types, the throwback to ‘Republican light.’”

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