Hillary Clinton ducked out of Iowa to go to Philadelphia on Wednesday. All you probably know about that visit was that the Democratic candidate for president held a fundraiser with deep-pocketed donors. But she did something even more vital to her White House chances. She met with about 50 African American ministers from across the country and spoke plainly about the issues they and their congregants care about.Today Jamil Smith gives us the scoop on what happened at the meeting. Apparently those in attendance weren't interested simply in formalities. Here's what he heard from Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, the pastor of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
After a brief opening statement—in which Clinton mentioned the Flint water contamination crisis and its racially disparate impact—Tyler says the candidate took a series of questions from the reverends on topics like public education and black unemployment. They expressed skepticism not only about her candidacy, but her authenticity with regard to black concerns, given her propagation of the “superpredator” myth during the push for her husband’s 1994 crime bill, one that undergirds the mass incarceration state Clinton has pledged to address as president. “These were not softball questions these people were asking,” Tyler said. But he left impressed. “I am not naive; I’ve been around politicians enough, so I get it. But I will say that the person who I spent that time with was drastically different than the person you see described on television.”While Bernie Sanders excels at inspiring the huge crowds he draws to his rallies, this is where Hillary Clinton is at her best - answering tough questions posed in a small group format. It is reminiscent of her performance at the Benghazi hearing last fall.
During a time when all eyes are on the mostly white electorate in Iowa, here's how Smith describes the importance of what Clinton did that day.
These preachers have roots in the African American communities they tend to; they know them intimately...
...in a week when catering openly to white voters is not only understandable but mandatory, the former secretary of state gave an indication of how she plans to play the long game in this primary—and showed that despite her massive advantage among voters of color, she’s not taking them for granted.Of course, the long game Smith is referring to is the one that comes after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. And when it comes to African Americans these days...they're not messing around.
“At this point, in this election, it is absolutely about results for black people,” Tyler said, noting with worry the need to counteract a Congress with Republican control in both houses and a Supreme Court tilting right under Chief Justice John Roberts. “We have broken through the glass ceiling; I continue to rejoice in President Obama’s election. But we have to have a president who can deliver on things that are important for us.”