News

Presidential Candidates Show New Diversity

Public opinion polls show the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are a woman -- Senator Hillary Clinton -- and an African-American -- Senator Barack Obama.  Observers say the Hispanic governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, also could be a strong contender. Leta Hong Fincher has more on how the American public's acceptance of diversity has evolved.

Twenty years ago, Ellen Malcolm started a political network in Washington called EMILY's List to raise money for Democratic Party women candidates. At that time, she says no one took women seriously in politics.

"Before we had a lot of women in office, I think voters didn't know what to make of a woman candidate,” says Ms. Malcolm. “They were sort of stymied; they had no reference points. What would a woman running for the Senate be like, or sound like or look like? And when they weren't used to it, they would kind of fall back on a lot of gender stereotypes."

Since then, Malcolm says voters have become much more comfortable with the idea of electing women to political office. EMILY's List is for the first time endorsing a woman -- Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton -- for president.

"I think voters now are used to seeing women run and women win and do good job in office. And I hope that new confidence in women in politics is going to make Hillary Clinton the first woman president," Malcolm says.

Public opinion polls show that Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner for president.

"I'm in, I'm in to win, and that's what I intend to do," the senator said to a gathering recently.

Viable candidates for president also include an African-American---Senator Barack Obama. He announced, "I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee."

And a Hispanic -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. "Our reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government have perished," said the governor in a prepared video.

All three of these political leaders are legitimate candidates for president.

Scott Keeter directs surveys for the Pew Research Center in Washington. "It's really a reflection of the growing diversity of the society,” says Keeter. “With the tremendous amount of immigration that's occurred in the last few decades in the United States and the growing diversity of our population, especially the younger population, people are much more comfortable with others who are not like them. And that has extended to politics as well."

Keeter says many Americans are now able to look beyond the gender or race of political candidates when evaluating their skills and leadership potential.

By the same token, observers say presidential candidates will be unable to win a general election by targeting minority voters alone.

Take the Hispanic population -- the fastest growing minority group in the United States. Stephen Hess, an elections expert at the Brookings Institution research group in Washington, says this trend does not necessarily benefit Richardson's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"As opposed to some other communities, which are much more set in their ways politically, such as the African-American community, which overwhelmingly identifies with the Democratic Party, the Hispanic community is very much up for grabs."

Similarly, Hess says there is no indication that Obama would win the African-American vote against Clinton. Opinion polls show she is popular among black communities.

"Barack Obama did not come up through the ranks as an African-American leader, as Jesse Jackson had, or another politician, Al Sharpton, where there are very strong feelings because basically they've made their mark as a leader of their own community, trying to make demands on the rest of society as a minority group,” Hess told us. “That hasn't been his route at all."

Hess says Obama has risen just as any other politician would, by representing the people of his state regardless of whether they are black or white.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs