GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain claims African-American voters have been "brainwashed" into supporting liberal politics, saying many of them have not been open to Republican views. Cain, the only black candidate in the race, made his comments in an interview Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room."
"African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view," Cain said in the interview.
"I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it's just brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple."
His comments come as support for President Obama has actually waned significantly among blacks. The Washington Post/ABC News Poll, released on Sept. 21, found that five months ago, Obama enjoyed an 83 percent favorability rating from the African-American community. Now, however, support is down to 58 percent. This striking 25 percent drop reflects his falling favorability among all ethnic and racial groups.
“There is a certain amount of racial loyalty and party loyalty, but eventually that was going to have to weaken,” Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University who studies African-Americans, told The Washington Post. “It’s understandable given the economy.”
Obama recognizes this drop and is working hard to motivate his political base. The president spoke at a dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus over the weekend and told the audience it was time for them to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying” and get to work in supporting his re-election. While the crowd reportedly gave him a standing ovation, many pundits and politicians were critical of the speech.
According to Politico, talk show host Tavis Smiley asked in astonishment, “How does he get away with saying this to black folk?”
Many critics claim Obama is only tough when he’s talking to other black people. From the start of his presidential campaign, Obama’s “blackness” has been called into question. Some argue that the mixed-race senator is not “black” enough.
In an interview with Black Entertainment Television, Obama insisted the criticism he receives from the African-American community is limited, and said there was “only a handful of African-Americans who have been critical. They were critical when [he] was running for president. There’s always going to be somebody who is critical of the president of the United States.”
David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an organization whose aim is to improve the socioeconomic status of blacks, told The Christian Post that he disagrees that Obama’s losing the black vote.
“It’s not true. African-Americans are unhappy right now. But they are much more unhappy with the Republicans.”
He said The Washington Post is anti-African-American and questioned the results of the poll, commenting that he interacts with the black community and has done his own polls that indicate the community is not turning its back on the first black president.
Bositis also disputed Cain’s comments.
“[Cain] is not somebody that is knowledgeable about African-Americans as a whole. He’s an individual,” he said, adding that Cain’s comment was “a racist statement.”
“I know plenty of African-Americans, including people who are neutral on politics, who would say that the Christian conservative community is brainwashed.”
Nevertheless, Cain is optimistic about his chances of wooing his own demographic. His interactions with the black community lead him to believe that one-third to 50 percent of blacks are actually open-minded.
"I meet them every day. They stop me in the airport. And so this whole notion that all black Americans are necessarily going to stay and vote Democrat and vote for Obama, that's simply not true. More and more black Americans are thinking for themselves. And that's a good thing,” Cain said.