The Native American Vote
By Sean Reagan
A big part of the rural vote in any state is the Native Americans. Democrats traditionally win the broadest swath of these votes but McCain, who is a past chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, is not conceding that vote.
Politico reports that Obama has been consistently meeting with tribal leaders while campaigning – low-key affairs that will go a long way to cementing this critical rural bloc.
Making up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population and concentrated mostly outside key primary states in past election years, Native Americans are seeing an uptick in prominence because of political and geographic realities.
The prolonged primary season has pushed the contest into states with larger Native communities — states that typically voted too late to attract much attention from presidential candidates. With the emergence of the Mountain West as the newest general election battleground, the Native vote is more highly sought after than ever since it has proven to be mobilized and instrumental in recent statewide races.
“This has never, ever happened before,” said Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, which is neutral in the race. “In 2004, we thought it was a landmark when we got a majority of the candidates to make a statement to Indian Country and come to our conference.”
Obama has met with tribal leaders in North Carolina, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Montana and South Dakota. He has also promised to appoint an American Indian policy adviser to his senior White House staff.
And John McCain? Well, he was in Wisconsin today. Wisconsin is an Algonquian word that means “gathering of waters.” There are eleven federally recognized Native American tribes in the state.
Think McCain had anything to say about them? Nope.
Maybe he’s meeting with them tonight, right? Actually he’s at a fundraiser in downtown Milwaukee.
So what did McCain have to say?
McCain hit Obama, including picking up the recent theme of questioning why Obama has not visited Iraq or met with Gen. David Petraeus about the situation there.
“Now, I said I’d go with him,” McCain said of Obama. “He doesn’t want to do that. The point is he needs to go and he needs to go soon.”
McCain also criticized Obama for his stated willingness to meet with leaders of Iran, Cuba and other countries.
I guess nobody told him that less than a quarter of Wisconsin voters care about the war. Then again, when that’s all a man’s got to talk about . . .