From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
At the National Urban League conference this morning, four Democratic presidential hopefuls -- Kucinich, Edwards, Clinton, and Obama -- discussed their agendas to help poor urban African Americans rise out of poverty. But they also took advantage of the stage to offer both indirect and direct jabs at their opponents.
Clinton and Obama were each asked what, if elected, they would do to help the urban plight, and both responded they would make a change at the attorney general level. "Number one, let's appoint an attorney general who believes in the civil rights laws," Clinton said. "In addition to actually enforcing the laws we have on the books, let's make sure if there are holes that need to be plugged and gaps we have to fill, we do that." Later, Obama said, "I will have a Justice Department that actually promotes justices, and an attorney general who cares about civil rights."
Hillary's Southern And Obama's Black
It appeared that Clinton's parodied southern accent resurfaced while she was talking about her belief for a "new and different conversation" about the 1.4 million African American men ages 16-24 in prison who are considered to be a "threat, headache, or a lost cause."
Unlike his previous addresses to primarily African-American audiences, Obama today overtly appealed to the black vote. "The day I'm inaugurated, the country looks at itself differently, and don't underestimate that power, don't underestimate that transformation," Obama said in response to a question on racial polarization. "When the state of Black America comes out, I want it to say the state of Black America is strong. In order for that to happen, we've got to to form that base. If you don't think I'm the best candidate to do that, I will just ask you one question. Who's got capacity to put Mississippi in play, which is 40% African American?"
While talking about home buying and loans, Kucinich paused and said "these hedgefunds, what are they about" -- making a possible joke at Edwards' expense. At the conclusion of his speech, he promised he has the experience to start on day one -- something Clinton often says. "As president, I'll have a full legislative agenda ready. I'll be ready the first day to go to work."
Obama also took a gentle swipe at Clinton, stating he "is not going to have a conversation" about the need to transform the country. Later on, he said, "All of us, from what I can tell, agree with the need to expand early childhood education, all of us are talking about universal healthcare, although some of us more specifically than others" -- obviously referring to the fact that Clinton has yet to announce a comprehensive health-care plan.
And Edwards repeated his mantra that the system is rigged, stating "big interests" such as insurance and drug companies control what happens in Washington -- and then offered what appeared to be a shot at Clinton and her husband's presidency. "Do we believe these people who have power today, that they are going to give it away voluntarily? Man, I am here to tell you, they will never give it away voluntarily," Edwards said. "We cannot negotiate, politick, triangulate. None of that's going to work with these people. The only way you can take their power away from them is to actually take them on."