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An Obama campaign photograph of the Chicago headquarters last week had black Democrats buzzing about diversity
President Barack Obama’s team is looking to hire more African-Americans, a search that has stirred a debate among black Democrats about Obama’s record on diversity and its implications for his reelection.
Stefanie Brown, director of the campaign’s African American Vote program, wrote in an “urgent” March 21 email to contacts in the black community that “The Obama for America campaign is in the process of really staffing up in states around the country, and I need your help to find qualified, African American candidates for some of these positions.” The email, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, notes that “this is a fast moving process and your (quick) support is greatly appreciated.”
Campaign manager Jim Messina created and runs a working group “dedicated to ensuring that we are looking at a diverse pool of applicants for jobs” — both African-Americans and members of other minority groups — a campaign official told POLITICO, and Latinos for Obama was launched on Wednesday.
The diversity push — and specifically the effort to hire African-Americans — isn’t just on the campaign side: In Washington, four officials from the White House personnel office and lobbying shop met Monday with chiefs of staff for members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss building a better pipeline for black staffers to move from the Capitol to the White House. An administration official emphasized that the White House reached out to the CBC, not the other way around, and said the meeting was coincidental to the campaign’s efforts.
The race to stock up on black talent is a welcome development among Washington’s African-American power elite — and one that critics say is three years late in coming. The cynical take, offered up by black Democratic sources outside Obama’s camp: The president and his aides have focused their attention on hiring more African-Americans because they are worried about black turnout on Election Day.