Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco, reported Saturday that President Barack Obama held a semi-secret conference call with the racist preacher Jeremiah Wright and other ministers last weekend to boost African-American turnout. But Obama for America campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith denied it flatly to The Daily Caller on Sunday.
“It is not true,” Smith, the campaign’s rapid-response director, wrote in an email to TheDC.
Brown reported his claim in his San Francisco Chronicle column Saturday evening,
Pressed on whether Wright has “engaged any campaign activity with President Obama over the last two months,” Smith replied, “He has not. The story is totally incorrect.”
Brown’s claim of a secret outreach effort to a group of black religious figures including Obama’s former pastor came with a parallel claim that anti-black racism will drop Obama’s Election Day results by roughly 4 percentage points below pre-election polls.
“By my estimate, you have to build in a three- to five-point slip from the poll numbers for any black candidate on Election Day … [so] you need to pump up the black vote by equal measure,” he wrote in his Oct. 20 column.
Brown didn’t include any details about the unpublicized call to Wright and the other preachers.
Smith also told BuzzFeed Sunday that the “report is false,” though she didn’t specify exactly what about it was inaccurate.
In 2008, Obama disavowed his long-time preacher and supporter as he presented himself as a mainstream moderate.
Since then, his policies have alienated many conservatives and moderates, putting him seven points behind Gov. Mitt Romney in Gallup’s latest poll of likely voters nationwide.
African-Americans comprise roughly 30 percent of the Democratic Party’s vote.
Boosting African-American turnout isn’t easy, Brown said, “because brothers and sisters aren’t among the top turnout groups … [compared to 2008] this time it’s not going to be that easy.”
Various surveys and polls say African-American support and enthusiasm for Obama has dropped below 90 percent because African Americans have been hit hard by the bad economy during Obama’s presidency.
Some former African-American supporters have said they’re backing away from Obama because of his liberal social policies, including his push to redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to get marriage licenses.
However, Obama has to hide his African-American outreach for fear of further antagonizing white voters, Brown claimed.
“If Obama looks as if he’s going black, he could turn off white people. So he’s largely been lying low on the race issues — visibly pushing for the Latino vote, the gay vote, the women’s vote, but not the black vote,” said Brown.
“But last weekend, he held a conference call with a collection of black preachers that included his old pastor, Jeremiah Wright. He wanted to talk to them about getting out the vote.”
Brown didn’t include any details from the conference call.
The San Francisco Chronicle also downplayed the news by placing a boring headline above Brown’s dramatic article.
“Obama makes late push for black voters,” read the headline.