First black state governor fails to endorse Obama

L. Douglas Wilder was the first black American elected to serve as a state governor. A critic of Vice President Joe Biden, he now says that he will not endorse Barack Obama.

 

A nationally prominent Democrat who endorsed President Barack Obama’s first election bid in 2008 has decided not to endorse the first black American president’s reelection. Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, the first black American governor in the American union wrote in a November 5 column that he could not endorse Obama’s reelection bid, citing differences over the Chief Executive’s conduct during the campaign. While Wilder did not expressly support the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney, he did say that the former Massachusetts governor "has met the test to be president." Speaking to the conduct of the campaign Wilder wrote, "Democrats counted on using ad hominem attacks to make Romney seem too unworthy and too unsteady to be the country's chief executive because of the rough nominating process. But that has not been 100 percent effective. Will it be effective enough? We'll find out on Tuesday."
 
A lifelong Democrat, Wilder has been known at times to differ with party colleagues. Wilder continued to say, "I have campaigned for and supported the president in the past, and many people now want to discuss his job performance with me." Wilder, in an anecdote, mentioned an encounter with he had with a female voter who had supported Obama’s 2008 election bid. The woman told Wilder that this time around she did not want any party to take her vote for granted.
 
Earlier this year, Wilder denounced statements made by Vice President Joseph Biden on the campaign trail. Biden infamously told an audience this year that Romney is “going to unchain Wall Street,” concluding that Republicans are “going to put y’all back in chains,” to which Romney’s campaign cried foul. This was an obvious and unfair allusion to slavery, Romney’s supporters argued.
 
Wilder expressed misgivings about how the national economy has faired under Obama’s helmsmanship. “The past decade, particularly the past four years or so, have put all of those matters at a tipping point — to borrow a phrase from writer Malcolm Gladwell — during the next four years. It matters whether voters choose Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama to address them.” He continued, “The classic question, ‘Are we better off than we were four years ago,’ leaves a mixed answer for many people I meet when traveling around Virginia and the country. The grand symbol of that fact is the economic growth numbers released this past week. The projection was for roughly 1.7 percent growth, but the statistics actually came in at 2 percent. The Obama campaign trumpets the numbers as better than expected. The Romney campaign notes they are lower than promised four years ago. Both are right.”
 
While Wilder was seen at a Romney fundraiser earlier this year, and thereby setting Democrat’s tongues to wagging, he averred that after all he will vote for Obama despite his tepid support during this election cycle.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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