Republicans want to “suppress and block” supporters of President Barack Obama from voting because they are willing to win at any cost, the president’s former political director said.
By pushing for laws requiring voters to show government- issued photo identification before casting ballots, Republicans backing presidential candidate Mitt Romney “are determined to do all that they can to be successful in this election by any means necessary,” Patrick Gaspard, now the Democratic National Committee’s executive director, said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
Gaspard and other opponents of the voter-ID laws say they discriminate against poor, young, elderly and minority voters, who are more likely to back Obama over Romney.
“Instead of producing jobs, they’d rather keep young people from voting,” Gaspard said. “They’d rather keep senior citizens from voting.” He declined to say directly if he thought racial considerations were motivating the effort to pass the laws.
Republicans say they are trying to limit fraud and preserve the integrity of the election process.
“While Americans overwhelmingly believe in maintaining the integrity of our elections, the Democrats continue to make it about politics,” Tim Miller, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in an e-mail.
Gaspard said the Democratic base, including black voters, would be “active, mobilized and animated” for the Nov. 6 election after Democrats draw a contrast with Romney and tout the administration’s accomplishments, including the health-care overhaul enacted in 2010 and increased availability of federal student aid for education.
Voters, including African-Americans, “recognized that this president has put infrastructure in place that’s going to make sure that we grow our economy from the middle out,” Gaspard said.
Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in the 2008 election, up from 88 percent for Democrat John Kerry in 2004, according to national exit polls. Black voters accounted for 13 percent of the electorate in 2008, up from 11 percent in 2004, according to the polls.
Voter enthusiasm for Obama may be lower this year than in 2008, when Democrats had advantages, including a long primary contest that boosted participation and running against the unpopular eight-year presidency of Republican George W. Bush.
“When you look at historic trends, usually when someone is running for the second time, be they Democrats or Republicans, you never have the same fervor that you had,” Gaspard said.
The black population is larger than 10 percent in the swing states of Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Strong black turnout in North Carolina, where more than one in five people are black, helped Obama carry the state in 2008, though polls say Romney has the edge there now.
The unemployment rate for the black population was 14.1 percent in July, up from 12.7 percent when Obama took office in January 2009. It peaked at 16.7 percent in August 2011. The black jobless rate is almost twice as high as the 7.4 percent rate for whites.
The unemployment rate for all Americans rose to 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said yesterday. That’s the 42nd consecutive month it has held above 8 percent -- the longest stretch in the post-World War II era.
Gaspard said the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Sept. 4-6 would “have more than enough resources” even with the struggles by host committee officials to meet fundraising deadlines.
“The convention staff is working day and night to raise the resources that we need,” Gaspard said, noting that the host committee is eschewing donations from corporations and lobbyists. Host committee officials have set up a second nonprofit organization that is accepting corporate money to help defray convention costs.
Obama is scheduled to accept the Democratic nomination on Sept. 6 at Bank of America Stadium. Gaspard defended the venue even as the president attacks the excesses of large financial institutions and pushed for more regulation of the industry.
Obama throughout his political career has “always lifted up the entrepreneurial instincts of this country and has done all that he could to help salvage the banking industry, and to enact reforms that will benefit middle-class Americans,” Gaspard said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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