Time staff writer Tamala M. Edwards spoke with Donna Brazile, the sister who is Gore’s campaign manager, by telephone as Brazile headed to New York from Michigan on Air Force Two:
Why should Black women choose Al Gore?
Because of his issues and priorities. Raising the minimum wage and his positions on health care and education. He has a history of public service, a history of being on the right side of Black families and America’s families. He was there on issues like Black women’s health, striving for more funding like breast-cancer research. Democrats work every day in Congress and the statehouse putting forward the concerns of Black women and Black families. Bush has a symbolic effort, but there’s no reality behind the rhetoric. Al Gore has been part of the most diverse administration in history.
Blacks are trending more independent. Also some say that with good times, we’re less likely to turn out and vote. Does this worry you?
I believe in the final week you’ll find that African Americans will be turned on. Some are struggling just to get through the door. African Americans are very interested in that Africa, the Caribbean and Haiti are important priorities. Gore’s response to James Byrd and the hate crimes bill appeals to them. But yes many Democrats take African Americans for granted. The party has to do more to show African Americans that they support and share the same issues.
Are African-American women part of the swing voter group being catered to?
Swing voters tend to be more suburban than urban, non-minority, middle-class White women. Black women make up their minds and stick with their choice. But we’re still putting out our vision for America. We have an inclusive voice. When you see our rallies, they look like America. We’re all over the swing voters, but the turnout of minorities like Black women is equally important.
[A few minutes after hanging up, Brazile calls back:]
You know, this is all about bread-and-butter issues. Just when people get on their feet, they don’t want to slip back to the past. I said to my sister the other day, what should I talk about? And she said education, health care, bread and butter. People know $1,600 to $2,000 vouchers are not going to change their neighborhood schools. Al Gore is talking about all education – from pre-school to college. We’re not making false arguments. We’re talking about making sure public schools are good schools.
There needs to be an urgency about this election that hasn’t been articulated yet. When people see the urgency on the Supreme Court, health care … . Getting this all together is like making a gumbo. I can promise you that when it’s ready it’s going to be good, hot and spicy.