A delegation of 55 Arkansas Democrats are in Charlotte, N.C., for their party’s convention, but they are not anxious to talk about their primary task — to nominate President Barack Obama for his re-election bid.
The official press releases from the Democratic Party of Arkansas mentions a variety of other events taking place. On Tuesday, they were hosting a party celebrating the second anniversary of President Bill Clinton getting the nomination and becoming the first Arkansan elected president. The party sent out three press releases touting the event, including information that actress Ashley Judd and actor Adrian Grenier would be in attendance.
As Arkansas Democrats party like its 1992, they also quietly will cast votes for their nominee — the president.
It is not a big surprise that state delegates and officials are avoiding the subject at hand. President Obama’s policies been an abject failure in helping the nation’s economy recover, and he is so unpopular in Arkansas that he is heading for near-certain defeat. It is not expected to be close.
And yet no matter how much they want to avoid the subject, their quiet support is support all the same.
Democratic congressional candidates necessarily have been a bit more vocal in their support of the president.
In the 2nd District, Herb Rule attended the opening of Obama’s Arkansas headquarters a few months ago. A few weeks later, at an event at the Governor’s Mansion, Rule interrupted Republican Chairman Doyle Webb, who was speaking about Obama’s lack of support in Arkansas, to say he was proud to support the president.
Scott Ellington, the Democratic candidate in the 1st District, attacked the Republican presidential ticket. At the Arkansas Democratic State Convention, he affirmed his support for Obama and went so far as to question Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s "fitness as a man."
And down in the 4th District, State Sen. Gene Jeffress has been a vocal supporter of Obama’s policies, particularly Obama’s national health insurance plan, known widely as Obamacare. At one town hall meeting, he used very colorful terms to say that opponents of Obamacare were being motivated – at least partially — by racism. Jeffress tells me that as a Democrat he will support Obama, even though he concedes "in some areas that will obviously play greater than in other areas (of his district)."
Even Gov. Mike Beebe said, rather reluctantly, that he is "probably going to vote for Obama." This half-hearted support is a long way from his full-throated endorsement he gave Obama shortly before the 2008 election, when he said, "So there wasn’t any equivocation – anybody that asks me questions, I told you where I stand. I told you a couple weeks ago; I told you a month before that; and I will tell you again, I stand squarely with Barack Obama."
For the months leading up to the November election, Arkansas voters will see many Democrats try to change the subject when the presidential election comes up. They will decry Washington politics and want to turn their attention back to Gov. Beebe or local issues. They may even pretend it is 1992 and President Clinton on the ballot.
The truth is, Arkansas Democrats have continued to support their presidential nominee, and more importantly, they have not pointed out where they disagree with his failed policies.
Jason Tolbert is an accountant and conservative political blogger. His blog — The Tolbert Report — is linked at ArkansasNews.com. His e-mail is jason@TolbertReport.com