BET Founder Echoes Ferraro On Obama


BET Founder, Robert Johnson

BILLIONAIRE businessman Bob Johnson said Monday that Sen. Barack Obama would not be the Democratic party's leading candidate if he were white. Those comments to the Charlotte Observer echoed those of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who stepped down as an adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton last month after the firestorm that erupted after she was quoted saying Obama wouldn't be where he is if he were white.

"What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called `Jerry Smith' and he says I'm going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?" Johnson said. "And the answer is, probably not. But Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial—it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything."

Johnson disputed the notion that Obama has built a broad coalition. Most of his support, he said, comes from African Americans and white liberals but not white, working-class Democrats.

Johnson, who made a fortune after founding Black Entertainment Television and now owns the Charlotte Bobcats, is a longtime friend of Clinton and her husband, the former president. Johnson said Obama is likely to win the nomination and has had the support of "the liberal media."

"They sort of dislike Hillary for her vote on the war. They don't want to see Bill and Hillary in power again," he said. "So Obama comes in and runs a smart campaign. But that's not the Second Coming, in my opinion, of John F. Kennedy, FDR or the world's greatest leaders."

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