Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Obama wows "Michi-anders"

After a contentious primary battle with Hillary, Obama is working hard to win over voters in my very blue state of Michigan. He didn't start things off very well at a rally here in Detroit, where he said;

"To the world champion Detroit Wed Wings... To the Mosaic Youth Choir... To Obama grassroots volunteers, especially Michi-anders for Obama and Michigan Democratic future." Calling MichiGANDERS "Michi-anders" is a dumb gaffe probably due to fatigue, but not a serious mistake.

However, potentially more serious, were two requests by Obama campaign volunteers that Muslim women wearing head scarves remove them before being seated behind Obama at a Detroit rally.
"I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to,” said Hebba Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer who lives in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. “The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with Muslims or Muslim supporters."
Detroit is home to the largest Muslim population outside of the Middle East. Most Michiganders have grown accustomed to Muslim attire in our neighborhoods, schools, stores, and even at the pool. This blunder doesn't exactly play well in his desire to be seen as the candidate of hope and change. The campaign has apologized. Politico's Ben Smith has the details.

The Muslim/Christian tightrope Obama has to walk is going to haunt him throughout this campaign especially here in Metro Detroit where it's an incredibly thin rope. Too many slips like this could cost him big at the ballot box. Within miles of my home, there are large Arab communities where calls to prayer are heard five times a day, but ice cream trucks are banned for being too noisy; and large Catholic and evangelical communities where "Reagan Democrats" are in abundance and ripe for the picking. Religion is important to them all. How Obama affirms his Christian faith and at the same time handles the rumors that he is allegedly Muslim without alienating Islamic voters could mean the difference between a win or a loss in this battleground state.

It will be interesting to see if Obama is forced into a giving a faith speech similar to Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, Huckabee tosses out some free advice to his fellow Republicans. He said,
"Republicans will make a fundamental if not fatal mistake if they seek to win the election by demonising Barack Obama,"
Huckabee was apparently referring to race in his remarks, but he may have a point with religion too. He attempted to demonise Romney's religion and look where it got him.

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