Hoping to motivate minority and Democratic base voters, Reverend Jesse Jackson has begun airing concerns that the Republican Party could challenge the 14th Amendment and even the Civil Rights Act should it take power in Congress.
The civil rights icon told the Huffington Post on Tuesday evening that he has made a round of speeches and recorded several robocalls in an effort to drive up early voting turnout. Among the pitches are those focusing on some of the more memorable and eccentric GOP policy proclamations of the past few months.
"In one of their positions, the 14th Amendment was being challenged, the Civil Rights bill of '64 was being challenged, they said their intent upon winning was to defeat the president," Jackson said. "They want to defeat the health bill which covers preexisting conditions and college students and all these overtures to overturn the Constitution are very threatening to ourselves."
Among Democrats hitting the trail, Jackson is one of the few to have raised the specter of the 14th Amendment being overturned. Questions of birthright citizenship flared up over the summer as a number of Republican candidates and lawmakers questioned whether immigration law was too lenient on the children of the undocumented. But what seemed like ample campaign kindling quickly faded as discussion topics. And now, the most memorable immigration-themed ads of the cycle remain those run by Republicans featuring frightening images of illegal border crossings.
That hasn't dissuaded Jackson. On Tuesday, Will Caskey, a Democratic opposition researcher in Illinois, reported receiving a robocall narrated by the Reverend. Jackson's office at the RainbowPush coalition could not provide a script of the call to the Huffington Post. But Caskey said that it included discussion of the 14th Amendment in a broader attempt to encourage Democrats to vote.
"[It] sounded more like a general turnout push," emailed Caskey. "[I'm] a little puzzled as to why I got the call; I am in a double-four out of four D household."
Asked about the robocalls, Jackson explained that they were simply part of a larger effort to target young and minority voters and, in the process, to end the perception that there was an enthusiasm gap between the parties.
"Enthusiasm is on the rise," said Jackson. "The media has focused so much on the Tea Party and their leadership that it is largely ignored the students and the black base... we certainly had interest in 2008, which was defined, and we have interests in 2010 to protect our gains."