WBUR

‘Obama Supporters For Brown’ Work To Court Black Vote

BOSTON — With Election Day just over a week away, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren continue to work hard for votes. Both campaigns are seeking to win over voters from minority communities.

A New Strategy 

When Brown arrived for a campaign event in Watertown Wednesday one man in his entourage stood out: he was wearing a T-shirt that read: “Obama supporters for Brown.”

Black men wearing these shirts showed up in Dudley Square last week passing out Brown campaign literature.

“So, you guys are supporting Scott Brown?” I asked.

“No comment,” one of them responded. “We’re just campaigning for Scott Brown.”

The man said he’s unemployed now but normally works for a building supply company. He wouldn’t give his name, but referred me to a campaign office on Blue Hill Avenue in Grove Hall.

There Robert Lewis, who says he supported Brown in the 2010 election, is running the newly opened “Obama supporters for Brown” office. He says they’re not always well received.

“I’ve heard… I can’t even repeat half the stuff,” Lewis said. “But we’ve got thick skin and we believe in what we’re doing.”

Lewis says some of those passing out Brown campaign flyers are being paid a stipend to cover transportation, food and other costs, such as babysitting. Others, he says, are volunteers.

The outreach effort comes after Brown’s Democratic challenger gained some key support.

Warren and Brown had been invited to a forum supported by a wide range of organizations representing people of color and nonprofit organizations in Boston. Warren attended but Brown declined, says Juan Cofield, president of the New England Area Conference of the NAACP, one of the sponsors of the forum.

“We saw it as an opportunity for them both to introduce themselves to the community and to talk about policy issues in general and in particular that would have a greater impact on communities of color,” Cofield said. “And as we saw it, that just was not important to him.”

Earlier this month, several prominent church leaders gave their personal blessing to Elizabeth Warren. Among them was the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, head of the Boston TenPoint Coalition.

“We want to make clear this is not anti-Scott Brown, this is a pro-Elizabeth Warren gathering,” Rev. Brown said.

The Rev. Eugene Rivers also endorsed Warren. He says he and some of his fellow ministers had been leaning toward Brown, but the senator’s failure to “tangibly communicate that black voters were a priority” tipped them toward Warren.

“We’re here standing with Elizabeth Warren because she is going to invest time, talent and energy in helping address the issues that are important to us,” Rev. Rivers said.

On Wednesday, when asked about the minority forum and the ministers’ endorsement Brown said:

I don’t know what event you’re referring to. I’ll have to check with my staff. I’ve been working on issues affecting the black community since my days as state senator, working on the Metco Program. I’m very content with what I’ve been doing in the minority community and will continue to work regardless of their endorsement.

Brown supporter Robert Lewis says the early campaign missteps are in the past.

“Well, that was in the beginning,” he said. “We were just at Grace Church last weekend, we’ve done a number of events in the last couple of weeks.”

Over the past few months, Elizabeth Warren has visited Grace Church and several others in the Boston area. Lewis says the “Obama supporters for Brown” campaign is also looking beyond Boston and has offices in Springfield and Fall River.

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  • RotisD

    This from a Salon article a week ago :

    http://www.salon.com/2012/10/17/gop_pays_to_rally_black_support_for_sen_scott_brown/


    Benjamin Thompson, who is African-American, is running “Obama supporters for Brown” that is paying about 20 “volunteers” a daily rate that works out to about $8 per hour. Their responsibilities include wearing pro-Brown T-shirts. At least four of the participants are homeless.
    The storefront operation has support from the GOP’s MassVictory

    • RotisD

      Looks like Scott Brown is a JOB CREATOR after all [smile] (and he’s concerned about the homeless) !

      Isn’t he TERRIFIC !?

    • Sinclair2

      Brown is exploiting these black people who are down and out and who would do just about anything for work in order to buy food.  Brown is exploiting the poor in order to win votes!

  • J__o__h__n

    “So, you guys are supporting Scott Brown?” I asked.
    “No comment,” one of them responded. “We’re just campaigning for Scott Brown.”

    - What an endorsement!

  • RotisD

    Scott Brown and other inquiring minds like his, want to know — What’s better for AA’s ? :

    a)  40 acres and a mule

    b) $8 per hour pay

  • Goody4Shoes

    I’ve done some work for Elizabeth Warren this season. It was REAL volunteer work, meaning no money changed hands. The fact that Brown has to pay black people to walk around in his t-shirts is pathetic at best. Anyone who has signed Grover’s pledge is not fit for public office. Brown’s master is  Norquist, not the people of Massachusetts.

  • pamajoh

    This is just so stupid – How can anyone support President Obama and tie his hands? Brown WILL vote against any effort President Obama puts forth  –  This smells of deception to me – and I feel sorry for the guys who need a job so badly, they will put on those shirts supporting Brown for $  - 

  • chillax

    I saw some young, African-American men at Columbus and Mass Ave yesterday holding up these signs.  I was really offended that the Scott Brown campaign thinks that African-American people in Boston are stupid enough to fall for this cynical, demeaning ploy. 

    It made me want to run home and put on some white, rich person’s outfit — maybe a ballgown and tiara (not that I own these items, but you get the picture) — and come back with a sign saying “Romney supporters for Warren.” But then I was worried that Scott Brown’s supporters would be too stupid to get the irony. 

    • J__o__h__n

      I’ll give you $8 if you do.

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