- Faith & Family
Most say Obama was the winner — but is it enough to reclaim the White House?
From a neighborhood convenience store in the heart of Liberty City to a new, upscale soul food restaurant in the Design District — even on a City bus traveling along NW 54th Street — Blacks in Miami were talking about Monday night’s presidential debate. Early Tuesday morning, while the normal white pundits and commentators were dishing out their “pearls of wisdom,” folks like Tom Joyner and his crew on HOT 105, like those in the Magic City, were excitedly rehashing the tete-a-tete between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Three Black mothers taking their children to school on the bus, were clearly critical of Romney’s plan to cut taxes for the rich while taking more money out of their pockets. Conversely, they were full of praise for Obama and his efforts thus far in helping middle- and lower-income Americans survive the recent recession.
Even those who prefer to spend their time in the world of social media were buzzing — with Facebook and Twitter chatting non-stop about Obama’s response when criticized about the decline in the number of U.S. Naval ships.
“Well, governor, we have fewer horses and bayonets,” Obama said.
The debate, moderated by CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, focusing on the issue of foreign policy, was the third and final face-off between the candidates. Each sought to portray the other as incapable of serving as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. But Obama was clearly on the offensive from the beginning and remained so throughout the 90-minute exchange. Experts say that Obama won the night but add that Romney was the victor in the three-debate season. On the eve of the debate, according to a national NBC/WSJ poll, Obama and Romney were in a virtual tie — 47 percent — among likely voters. Obama was struggling among white men but leading big among Latinos while Romney was gaining ground on the economy.
We talked to two groups of Miami residents whose eyes were tuned to their televisions and asked them their views.
A group of Black men converged at a local grocery store and eatery, Miracle on Broadway on NW 18th Avenue, at the invitation of the businesses proprietor, Cuthbert Harewood, to watch and discuss the debate.
“It’s exciting to see a Black president in a national debate and holding his own,” said Rudy Lacosse, a 28-year-old Haitian-American and public school teacher. “He brings hope to all Blacks and shows our youth that it’s possible to follow and achieve your dreams. It just takes one person to step forward and go after the supposedly impossible dream.”
Darrell Carter, 55 and a Liberty City resident, said he missed the first debate but wasn’t going to miss any more because “I want to hear whether Romney finally tells the truth.”
“How was Obama expected to clean up 12 years of mess caused by the Bush family?” Carter asked. “Here in Florida we had the added challenge of another Bush in charge. Four more years of Obama is what we need. And believe me, as one who was once incarcerated back in 1975, I’ve had to fight hard and long to regain my voting rights. But I got them. And yes, I’m going to vote.”
David Grace, 54, also from Liberty City and an ex-felon, agreed with Carter saying, “I just don’t understand why anyone should be denied the right to vote.”
Patrick Owens, 48, says that Rick Scott’s voter purging is a blessing in disguise for Blacks in Miami-Dade County.
“First we’re going to hold on to the White House but then Blacks need to start working with the Black Latinos here and show them that we are all in the same boat,” he said. As for Rudy Parris, 39, a public school teacher who volunteers in Liberty City each Saturday with budding young entrepreneurs, he says that Obama clearly showed that he had solutions to many of the problems plaguing Black America.
“Obama talked about foreign policy tonight and was obviously the man with the answers,” Parris said. “But he’s also been at the forefront of investing in public education. If we invest more in our children they can make their own way in life and achieve their goals. He wants to cut back on military spending, unlike Romney, so more dollars can go to education. That’s essential to our children’s future.”
“No question — Obama was the expert tonight,” said local businessman Leroy Jones, 50.
Pro-Obama crowd fills Southstreet restaurant
Amaris Jones, the owner of a new soul food spot, Southstreet, located in the Design District, declined commenting on the debate but said she was pleased that so many people showed up to participate.
“There was great energy here and of course I’m happy that they enjoyed the food,” she said, adding that about 150 people attended the community-sponsored debate watch.
“Obama hit a home run tonight,” said Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall.
But will it be enough to motivate Blacks to go to the polls?
“I’m not worried about what the pollsters say because I believe Barack Obama has shown his true mettle,” said Vivian Walters, 46. “Things look good for the President and this debate showed that he’s a decisive leader. His agenda includes protecting children, making life better for senior citizens and bringing our troops back home. There is no other choice for president.”
By D. Kevin McNeir