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Blacks Forming a Rock-Solid Bloc Behind Obama

A growing optimism, albeit one tempered by caution, could be sensed when Sen. Barack Obama spoke at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner. He led Sen. John McCain 95 percent to 2 among blacks in a recent poll.
A growing optimism, albeit one tempered by caution, could be sensed when Sen. Barack Obama spoke at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner. He led Sen. John McCain 95 percent to 2 among blacks in a recent poll. (By Hamil R. Harris -- The Washington Post)
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By Steven A. Holmes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

As Sen. Barack Obama strode onto the stage in the cavernous ballroom Saturday night, the audience jumped up, shouting, singing and clapping along with his campaign theme song, Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."

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That full-throated welcome from the huge, overwhelmingly African American audience at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner was tinged with growing confidence that victory -- and history -- may be within reach.

Recent polls show Obama opening up a lead over Sen. John McCain, both nationally and in some key battleground states, particularly on economic issues. The consensus among many analysts was that Obama held his own in last week's debate, which focused mainly on foreign policy, an issue considered one of his Republican rival's strengths. And Obama's black supporters continue to maintain a disciplined, united front, eschewing internal debates that could undermine his candidacy.

"I'm just feeling very strong and confident," said Kevin White a commissioner from Hillsborough County, Fla., who attended the caucus dinner.

"I am not ready to declare victory, but in my heart I'm starting to feel it," said Godfrey Jacobs, a public health consultant from Baltimore. "I think back in the primaries there was a point where you could sense momentum. I'm sensing that momentum again."

Jacobs and others quickly qualified their comments, noting their concerns about overconfidence and that, in the end, too many white voters will not vote for a black man.

Jesse L. Jackson agreed that the campaign was moving Obama's way but warned against complacency. "While we've got [McCain] against the ropes, we have to keep on pressing," he said.

Corey Ealons, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said: "I would add that people should not rest on their laurels. They are the final link in the chain in getting this done."

Former congressman Major R. Owens (N.Y.) said he was "upbeat" about Obama's chances, pointing to what he viewed as mistakes by McCain, including his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. "McCain's been very good to us," Owens said.

Spokesmen for the McCain campaign did not respond to requests for a comment on this article.

Otha Davis, a retired Los Angeles police detective, said he was "hopeful but scared."

A few weeks ago, Davis had watched nervously as Obama's lead in the polls faded after Palin's nomination and under withering attacks from the McCain campaign. Davis railed at television commentators and complained to his friend Linnie Bailey, a politically active black woman from Riverside, Calif., that Obama needed to fight back. Bailey would talk him down.


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