WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama, in a strong appeal to black voters on Wednesday, warned that if Donald Trump wins the election next week, the Republican presidential nominee would undo his administration’s legacy.
“If we let this thing slip and I’ve got a situation where my last two months in office are preparing for a transition to Donald Trump, whose staff people have said that their primary agenda is to have him in the first couple of weeks sitting in the Oval Office and reverse every single thing that we’ve done,” Obama said during an interview on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” a syndicated radio program.
Obama’s victories in the 2008 and 2012 elections were propelled in large part by his advantages among a broad and diverse coalition, including a mammoth margin of victory among black voters.
But there are signs that this year’s Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton might suffer from lower turnout among black voters, something that Obama addressed Wednesday.
The “African-American vote right now is not as solid as it needs to be,” he said.
Early voting numbers from key swing states and a state Clinton is hoping to flip to the blue column show that African Americans have not been voting early in the same numbers as they have in past elections. In North Carolina, blacks account for 23% of the early voting electorate, compared to 28% at this point in 2012. In Georgia, blacks so far make up 31% of the early voting population compared to 36% at this time in 2012. In Florida, blacks accounted for 15% of the early vote at this stage in 2008 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — compared to 12% this year.
“And I know that there are a lot of people in barbershops and beauty salons, you know, in the neighborhoods who are saying to themselves, ‘We love Barack, we love — we especially love Michelle, and so, you know, it was exciting and now we’re not as excited as much.’ You know what? I need everybody to understand that everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to somebody who believes in the same things I believe in,” Obama said.
The pitch was similar to remarks Obama made in September at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner, when he said that he would consider a Trump victory to be “an insult to my legacy.”
In an attempt to drive home the point that the black community could be particularly affected by a Clinton loss, the President said Wednesday the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, support for historically black colleges and universities, civil rights, voting right and even the first lady’s garden would be at risk under a Trump presidency.
He said progress made on criminal justice reform could also be stalled, citing the case of the Central Park Five, a group of black and Hispanic youths whose wrongful conviction in a 1989 New York rape was later overturned.
“Donald Trump is somebody who after the Central Park case was recognized as having convicted young African American men who were innocent today still insists that they should be in jail and what – this is the guy who’s gonna suddenly help to make sure that folks have fair treatment in the criminal justice system?”