Will race be a factor in the presidential election?

By: Rob Pratt Email
By: Rob Pratt Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The assassination plot is a powerful reminder that race will play a role in this election.

How much of a factor will it be?
The answer depends on who you talk to.

It's one thing key local McCain and Obama supporters have in common.
They both tell us the only race they're worried about is the one for president. Still, with the nation's tob job up for grabs, most admit at least some voters will see the choice as black and white.

"I was just calling to see if you've already voted. Have you voted yet?"

Reverend Clarence Hall spends his days at Obama Headquarters on Magnolia, working to get the vote out for his candidate.

"I'm not voting for Obama because he's black. I' just think that he would be the best president for this area, for this time in history," Hall said.

But will others share Hall's colorblind approach as they decide on a candidate? The 71-year-old, who's lived in Knoxville for 65 years, says he's seen reasons to doubt and to hope.

"Race will always have a certain percentage of a factor. People have changed quite a bit during the time that I've lived here in Knoxville."

Bonnie Brezina, McCain-Palin Knox County Campaign Manager, has a different view, "I don't think race is going to be a factor at all."

Brezina says there may be a few people out there who haven't gotten past the race issue, but not enough to change the election's outcome.

"They're not looking at Barack Obama as being African-American. They're not looking at John McCain as being Caucasian. They're looking at the issues."

Most voters will tell you race is not an issue for them but say they worry it is for others.

Tom Abernathy, U.T. Student from Nashville, a University of Tennessee student from Nashville says he expects some to vote based on race. "Sadly, with what went on recently in West Tennessee, I think with a lot of the rural population it will be, which is sad, but I mean, it's a fact of life."

U.T. Student Asia Waller, from Smyrna, Tennessee, says "Race probably is a factor to a lot of people. I think to my generation, the emerging generation, I think that we don't see race anymore. I think that we are really concerned about things that they believe in."

We want to know what you think: Will race be a factor in your decision for president? Vote and comment on our web channel, volunteer tv dot com. And stay with volunteer tv news and our webchannel, volunteer tv.Com for the most complete coverage throughout the election.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Dyane357 Location: Corryton,TN on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:59 AM
    Not only is race playing a part in this election, it played a BIG part in the press coverage and for comics. The press and comics were allowed to pull out all the stops when it comes to making fun of McCain, Palin and even Biden. It is 'cool' and 'hip' to back Obama and if you disagree with him it's NOT that you differ in viewpoints...it's because you are a racist. Pure and simple. It is naive to think that race hasn't been a factor in this election in many ways. Millions will vote for Obama because he is black. White guilt has been displayed all over the TV. The best example of that was the SNL sketch involving Obama, Sen. Clinton and a "mock" MSNBC panel. Like it or not, it's been a race about race!
  • by BeccaE Location: Pigeon Forge on Oct 30, 2008 at 08:28 PM
    Race, in my opinion, is more a factor for Obama than it is for anyone else. It gives him an established shelter from the storm. If anyone says ANYthing he perceives as offending, he plays the race card. If anyone does anything to upstage him, he plays the race card. If anyone accomplishes anything that makes him feel belittled, he plays the race card. I'm less concerned with race playing a part in this election than I am with the smooth way he reacts to everyone else with an arrogant smile of bemused condescention WHILE he plays the race card. If it weren't for the fact that the KKK has roots in TN, I would almost believe it possible that Obama [or his people] paid to have these would-be assassins go after him [Obama]. Is race a factor? Yes but only because Obama makes it a factor. I grew up in Alabama, and I'll tell you right now, John McCain is NO George C. Wallace! For Obama to even imply that just tells you how low this man will sink to lie his way into the presidency.
  • by conrad Location: texas on Oct 29, 2008 at 03:21 PM
    wow! i cannot believe what i am seeing. This is America and race is in our nations framework and will definitely play a factor in the election however to vote against a candidate due to fear and hatred is completely stupid. However I feel America has grown from its horrendous racial past and look beyond race and look to the issues which the McCain campaign has failed to do. The McCain campaign has used fearful words such as 'muslim', 'anti-christ', and 'terrorist' to attack Obama which I feel is terribly wrong. Now to me that does not represent American Ideals. (cough*cough* Chuck Humphries) And has also criticized Colin Powell (a fellow Republican) endorsing Obama because Colin himself is black is black. I advise all to watch Powell endorsing Obama and he gives thorough reasons why he endorses Obama. Lets look out for the betterment of our nation and leave our dark racial history behind and look towards a bright future for our nation.
  • by Traves Location: Sevierville on Oct 29, 2008 at 02:52 PM
    I found this passage on an LA Times website, i found it very "interesting": Barack Obama is not even legally a black American. He only has one black great-great-grandmother on his father's side while the other 7 were Arab. That makes him 50% white, 43.75% Arab, and 6.25% black. 12.5% is the minimum required to legally claim any racial status in America. Obama would quallify as the first Arab-American president, NOT the first black president. That is why they keep saying "African-American" and NOT black because they know he is African Arab and not African black. Of course the little black-lie will be told over, and over, and over again and he will rely on those eigth-grade educations he recently reffered to his black supporters as having to get them to buy it.
  • by mango223 Location: Knoxville on Oct 29, 2008 at 05:02 AM
    Race is definitely a factor. Just look at the entertainment industry. Every Black entertainer is for Obama. Why? because he is part black.
  • by Chuck Humphries Location: Tazewell, TN on Oct 29, 2008 at 04:08 AM
    There is no way on God's green earth that a person can call themselves a "Christian" and vote for Obama. Obama has a murderer's heart. He SUPPORTS ABORTION. Abortion is and will always be murder of innocent blood. Rev. Hall supports Obama and therefore Rev. Hall supports murder of the innocent. Rev. Hall is no more a Christian than Barack Hussein Obama is.
  • by dennis Location: USA on Oct 29, 2008 at 03:50 AM
    In this election race will definitely is going to play a role.But American voters are majority will overcome this and go for best suitable candidate.Because the need of the time is to be united and help the intelligent, capable and devoted president to pull the country out from the mess which has not only put this country into problem but has affected whole world.
  • by Jerome Location: Middlesboro on Oct 28, 2008 at 08:44 PM
    Of course racism exists in this campaign. Over 90% of blacks are voting for Barack Obama simply because he is black. What more need be said?
  • by wesley Location: tennessee on Oct 28, 2008 at 06:15 PM
    race will not make me vote for him the reason why i wouldn't vote for him is cause he is friends with the people who are hurting us
  • by A on Oct 28, 2008 at 05:44 PM
    Obama is the absolute WORST candidate in history to run for President. He is running on fluff and hiding his real plans. Race is the last thing people are scared of, but it's the first thing he and his followers think of to try to intimidate people with. Why do people have to clarify they aren't racist if they support the Republican only?


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