President Obama is once again receiving criticism for his endorsement, but this time it’s for his political backing of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.
According to published reports, Cohen’s opponent Willie Herenton called the presidents praise of the Memphis bred congressional House member, “a desperate political move.” Herenton went on to accuse President Obama of not being in touch with Memphis, Tennessee’s voters by saying that Obama “doesn’t know the voters in majority Back Memphis.”
“Mr. Obama’s got to look hard and long to even know where Memphis, Tenn., is, OK?” , Herenton said at a news conference.
The criticism comes after President Obama issued a statement backing Cohen for a third term in the House, calling him a “proven leader.”
“Together, we passed historic health care reform and together we’re continuing the fight to renew our economy and bring jobs back to the American people,” Obama said in a press confrence. “I am proud to stand with Steve and support his re-election to Congress.”
Herenton accused his opponent, who is white, of pushing the Obama staff for endorsement in an attempt to gain and keep the Black vote.
“I’m going to always be respectful to the president,” Herenton added. “He doesn’t understand the aspirations of people in this community. He made a political decision.”
Herenton, who is severely behind Cohen in fundraising, has drawn attention by making race an issue throughout his campaign, arguing with his “Just One” slogan that Tennessee needs an African-American congressman. All nine House members and the two U.S. senators are white.
Cohen, who has used Obama’s election as a catalyst to support his argument that race should no longer be a major factor for voters, feels that the accomplishment of Obama’s presidency should alleviate the race factor in voter’s decision.
“I was inspired by President John F. Kennedy to enter into politics to make a difference in my community and my country,” Cohen said. “Like President Kennedy, President Barack Obama inspires a new generation to do the same.”
Cohen and Herenton, who served 18 years as Memphis’ first elected black mayor, face off in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.