Kudos to Corey Johnson, who was on NY's Dem Primary ballot back on Super Tuesday as an Obama delegate, for some prudent advice to Sen. Obama during a recent LGBT fund-raiser (cost to attend: $2,300) in New York.
From the article:
As Sen. Obama made his way to the door, Johnson said he asked the senator directly to do more interviews with the gay press, citing the fact that he has conducted only one interview with an LGBT outlet during his presidential campaign. 'I said, "Your speech tonight was so moving to all of us, the way you spoke about our community. You need to do more [interviews]," recalled Johnson. "And he said, 'You're right, absolutely. We do need to do more with the LGBT press.'
Corey's spot on. He's also right to ask for something specific and doable. But, I'll ask anyway, for something a bit more vague and more ambitious: Why can't Obama speak on LGBT issues, especially if he does so so movingly, even beyond the LGBT press to non-LGBT audiences? Maybe when and if he becomes President he will, which is arguably when such statements to larger audiences would have the most effect anyway. Of course, for similar reasons, Sen. Clinton's campaign probably has the same strategy relative to speaking about LGBT issues to wider audiences.
And an LGBT event in NYC is nice, but . . . Okay, I'll ask: What about LGBT events in, say, Austin or Columbus, which could probably provide more inspiration and motivate more LGBT voters than a high-priced, Manhattan, elbow-rubbing gig? Maybe there's the issue of how much such LGBT events--which is to say, coverage of them in the media--might hurt Obama's chances in the state as a whole. I think they would not hurt his changes, actually, given that gay marriage isn't an issue likely to motivate much of the GOP base in 2008. (There's even good evidence that it didn't motivate voters in 2004 nearly as much as is often assumed. And how would it motivate GOP voters now anyway when it's been outlawed pretty everywhere at this point?) Of course, by similar reasoning, Sen. Clinton's campaign probably has the same strategy relative to keeping the lid on, or avoiding altogether, LGBT events in states that aren't sure wins. In the case of Obama's campaign, maybe they just assume that in urban places with big gay populations, but in less "blue" states than New York, they have the LGBT vote locked up by virtue of the fact that such places tend to be college towns, and Obama's big on campuses already. Also, for all I know, Obama and Clinton have both done great LGBT events--but successfully "kept them quiet"--in states where the stakes are higher for local LGBT communities. (The fundraiser that dare not speak its name? Jeez.)
So, if it's to be a New York LGBT event ... Okay, I'll ask: How about an LGBT event that doesn't feel clandestine? Again, time for some realism, I guess: New York is a state any Democratic candidate would easily win in the General Election and isn't a contest state in the Democratic Primary season anymore. So the Obama campaign is unlikely to prioritize NY events in general--be they in NYC or anywhere in the state--and unlikely to spend time and energy on big events especially. They'll hit up The Money; that's about it. Of course, by similar reasoning, Sen. Clinton's campaign probably has the same strategy relative to NY events. (In Obama's case, maybe there is also a consideration right now that small high-end events avoid antagonizing the many NY pols who support Sen. Clinton, including nearly all of the LGBT ones. I don't know. That's a guess.)
One thing isn't a guess though: Democratic presidential campaigns, because New York is so "blue," don't spend much time here; they generally treat New York as only New York City and New York City as only its high income earning population, which they then use not unlike an ATM. Whether or not the candidates themselves wish it were otherwise, it's hard to truly know.