Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jesse Jackson Jr. gives credit to his father for Obama's nomination

Story from the
Photos by Ken Lumpkin

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. - the son of the famed civil rights activist - stopped in Racine Wednesday to rally Barack Obama's campaign volunteers. The Illinois rep is co-chairman of Obama's national campaign and has been touring the nation on behalf of Obama for 18 months.

Jackson's visit was meant to pump up supporters heading into the final month of the campaign. Before he spoke to a crowd of 75, Jackson met with local reporters to discuss the campaign. Here's a few of comments:

Why stop in Racine?

"The campaign asked me to stop here," Jackson said. But that short answer aside, he noted that he campaigned in Wisconsin with his father in 1984 and 1988. Jackson said he felt comfortable in the state, and was impressed at an early age with the working class families he met. He had one memory of visiting with striking Kenosha auto workers in the early 1980s.

Any connections between his father's campaign and Obama's?

Yup. Jackson said his father gave a speech on the campaign trail titled, "Where are my delegates?" At the time, all Democratic primaries were winner-take-all races. Jackson finished second in early races, but received no delegates. The party later changed its rules to proportionally award delegates based on statewide vote totals.

The result: Obama finished second to Hillary Clinton in several early primaries, but remained close enough to continue his campaign - and eventually win the nomination. (You can read Jackson Jr's account of this here.)

"He never got too far away," Jackson said. "Barack never had to give a speech asking the question, 'Where are my delegates?'"

Is race going to be an issue in the final month of the campaign?

"There's never been an election where race was not a major issue," Jackson said. But he added that Obama directed his campaign advisers to "focus on issues" and "take the high road" at all times.

"Our campaign is making every effort along the way to choose the high road," he said.

Does Obama have enough experience to be president?

"No one who has run for president of the United States has ever been president of the United States," he said. "We don't have an incumbent, we have a vacancy. They have the same experience - none."

What does he think of Thursday's vice president debate?

"She (Palin) is going to be formidable," he said.

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