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President Barack Obama has been focusing his reelection campaign on appealing to the middle class — but many allies on the left, including civil rights activists and religious leaders, say it’s the poor that need more of his attention.
As the weak economic recovery grinds on, statistics show roughly 15 percent of all Americans have slipped into poverty. With these numbers in mind, a coalition of advocates are leading an effort that includes calls for direct federal aid as well as an any-means-necessary defense of government programs sure to face the budget ax in the fall. They say they won’t be deterred even if pushing Obama to take a more involved stand could force him into positions that could hurt him politically as he heads into November.
Leading the anti-poverty charge for progressives is TV host and Obama antagonist Tavis Smiley, who led a similar effort last summer and wrote a book, “The Rich and the Rest of Us,” with co-author Cornel West, a Princeton professor and social activist. With the election looming, Smiley said, he intends to press the president — as well as Mitt Romney — with a simple question: What will you do to help the 46 million people living in poverty?
Some political activists are pressing the social issue of poverty.
Many are putting the squeeze on Obama to do more for Americans who are at or below the poverty level.