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The Obama campaign's most controversial ad: 'African Americans for Obama'
A seemingly generic clip of the president asking for black support has attracted 3.6 million views and counting — because of conservative outrage
 
In a video released during African American History Month in February, President Obama announced the launch of "African Americans for Obama."
In a video released during African American History Month in February, President Obama announced the launch of "African Americans for Obama."
YouTube

The issue: "Of all the videos released by the Obama campaign this year — a blizzard of ads, clips, and documentary footage devoured by fans — the most viewed item is a seemingly anodyne constituency video launching 'African Americans for Obama,'" says Ari Melber at Reuters. (See the video below.) Why? The ad, released in February, proved highly offensive to some conservatives, with websites accusing Obama of playing the race card to win votes. "This is an attempt to segregate voters based on race instead of voters joining together in groups based on values," said David Bellow at TexasGOPVote. "Imagine if Ron Paul announced a national campaign called 'Whites for Ron Paul' — he'd be vilified as a racist," says Paul Joseph Watson at PrisonPlanet. Meanwhile, Fox News has devoted a segment to the ad, accusing Obama of being divisive.

The fallout: The YouTube page has 29,517 dislikes, compared with only 2,138 likes, evidence of the ad's unpopularity with conservatives. The clip not only tops all other Obama ads in terms of viewership, but has drawn double the views of Mitt Romney's most widely seen video. The intense reaction suggests that a loud minority of conservatives has a "vitriolic, obsessive grievance with the black president himself," speculates Melber, "his country of origin, his 'otherness,' and virtually anything about him that circles back to his race." As for Romney, a widely quoted poll this summer showed him winning zero percent of the black vote. "One of the reasons African-American voters do not support Romney," says Sherrilyn Ifill at CNN, "is that they see the Republican Party's treatment of Obama, from the first weeks of his presidency, as an assault on a kind of racial collective dignity."

 

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