NEW YORK — As Barack Obama stumped in Harlem on Thursday, Jacqueline Jackson endorsed Hillary Clinton, with the family of the Rev. Jesse Jackson divided over the two Democratic front-runners.
“Hillary is ready to lead on her first day in the White House and immediately begin delivering the change this country needs,” Jacqueline Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Clinton and Obama are in an increasing crucial battle over female and African-American voters, with neither rival conceding any racial, gender or geographical turf.
On Thursday, Obama picked up the Rev. Al Sharpton at his Harlem headquarters — just a few blocks from former President Bill Clinton’s office — and stopped for a photo op with him at a famous soul food restaurant, Sylvia’s.
Obama topped off a heavy day of high-end fund-raising in Manhattan with a low-dollar fund-raiser at the famed Apollo Theater, where he was introduced by comedian Chris Rock. Rock, not using Clinton's name, said the audience would be "real embarrassed if he won and we wasn't down. "I had that white lady. What was I thinking?"
The Rev. Jesse Jackson is supporting Obama, though the former two-time presidential candidate has no public role in the campaign. Last fall, Jackson said Obama was “acting like he was white” because he did not do more in the wake of the “Jena 6” case.
Jackson Sr. wrote in his latest column he was disappointed in all the Democratic candidates — except John Edwards — for ignoring “the plight of African Americans in this country.”
One of his sons, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.( D-Ill.), is on the Obama campaign leadership team. Another son who lives in Chicago, Yusef, is a major Clinton fund-raiser who has bundled together at least $100,000 in contributions.
Now his mother is also siding with Clinton and may go on the road to stump for her. If she goes to South Carolina — where Jackson Sr. was born and where he won the 1988 presidential primary — she will find herself having to dilute the impact of radio ads her son Jesse Jr. has made for Obama.
Jacqueline Jackson is an activist in her own right; in June 2001, she was jailed for 10 days in Puerto Rico protesting the U.S. Navy’s using the island of Vieques for a bombing range.
Sharpton has been wooed by Clinton and Obama all year. “I’ve not made a decision. I will very shortly,” Sharpton said, noting that racial tensions have increased recently over the Jena 6 incident, Don Imus comments and other hate crimes.
He said he has been telling candidates, “we need to address the problems of hate crime… and he [Obama] is the first candidate to say, 'Yeah, we need to talk about it,' so he came to my “headquarters and picked me up and said, 'Let’s go to dinner and talk,' and so he and I went to dinner and talked.”