President Barack Obama’s under-the-radar campaign to spur turnout in the African-American community is echoing the promise of post-election flexibility given last month to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
“What really excites me about [an Obama re-election] is that a U.S. president has only two terms,” Tatyana Ali, an Obama-boosting actress, says in a video on the African-American section of Obama’s campaign website.
“In the second term, it’s on, because we don’t have to worry about re-election,” says a laughing Ali, whose video was produced by Black Entertainment TV.
“This is my last election,” Obama told outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last month as reporters entered the room to hear a joint statement. “After my election, I’ll have more flexibility” in negotiating curbs on American anti-missile defenses, Obama told Medvedev, who is soon to replaced by his former boss, Vladimir Putin. (SEE ALSO: Obama defends hot mic gaffe)
On other occasions, Obama has strongly hinted to his gay and lesbian supporters that he is “evolving” to the point where he will support same-sex marriage.
Obama has also hinted to Latino political leaders that he’ll renew a push for the DREAM Act.
That promise of post-election flexibility has spurred criticism and derision from numerous GOP activists and conservatives, including GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, House Speaker John Boehner and strategist Karl Rove.
“Voters have every right to ask: What other surprises does he plan to spring on us if he’s reelected?” Rove wrote March 27, whle urging Republicans to make Obama’s hot mic moment a major element in the 2012 campaign.
Other GOP supporters are using the statement to ridicule Obama. “223 days left until ‘Flexibility Day,'” Ari Fleishcher tweeted March 28. “What position is Pres O taking now that will be different after November 6-if he wins?”
American Crossroads, a GOP-aligned research firm, used a spoof movie trailer, dubbed “Operation Hot Mic,” to ridicule Obama’s offer of post-election concessions to the Russian government.
The under-the-radar promise of post-election goodies may spur further derision from conservatives, who have long criticized Obama’s economic record as being particularly bad for African-Americans.
For example, less than 50 percent of black males younger than 30 are in full-time jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median wealth of African-American households fell by 53 percent from 2005 to 2009, or from $12,124 to to $5,667, according to a July 2011 Pew report.
The household wealth collapsed with the housing bubble, which was inflated by government policies that were supported by Obama while he was in the Senate.
The Obama campaign established the African-American portion of the website in February. It initially featured a racially tinged video message from the president, in which he said that previous generations of African-Americans “made it possible for someone like me to be here today… [and] we are greater together than we can ever be on our own.”
Obama is also using various African-American personalities to tout his re-election campaign, including Ahmir Khalib Thompson, a member of the band “The Roots.”
Obama “promised [in 2008] to bring real change and hope to our country and community as a whole,” Thompson says in a video hosted by the Obama’s campaign website. “This is not a quick fix. It’s not like you can take a wand, ‘BING,’ make magic overnight. He needs eight years to finish the mission and we need to have his back,” Thompson says.
In her video, Ali is mostly silent about Obama’s second-term agenda, but says he will renew his push for amnesty for some illegal immigrants.
In the first term, “we didn’t get the DREAM Act [a partial and conditional amnesty for illegal immigrants], but we’re going to get it if President Obama is elected again — when he is elected again,” said Ali, who was born to immigrants from the West Indies.
It is not clear if that goal is supported by a majority of African-Americans.
A February 2010 Zogby poll showed that 68 percent of African-Americans and 56 percent of Hispanics believed that immigration is too high. Nationally, the growth of Latino community has partially eclipsed the political clout and cultural visibility of African-Americans.
In his first term, “I know what he’s actually gotten done in the midst of all of that [GOP opposition] is spectacular, I mean, its phenomenal,” Ali said.
Those gains include a landmark health insurance reform law and the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military, says Ali, who works in California’s Hollywood industry.
In 2008 more than 90 percent of African-Americans voted for Obama, in part because of an under-the-radar campaign promising great financial benefits to African-Americans.
That street-level pitch greatly inflated expectations among African-Americans. For example, Peggy Joseph, an African-American voter, told NBC in October 2008 that she would support Obama because “I wont have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.”
“You know, if I help him, he’s going to help me,” she said.
This time around, Obama’s campaign has minimized its public promises, and its public pitch offers a negative, character-based campaign that portrays Romney as an out-of-tough elitist hostile to African-Americans.