THE BLOG

Will Tennessee Vote Black?

10/23/2006 03:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There is understandably a lot of talk about Barack Obama, especially since he confirmed on Sunday that he is considering a presidential run in 2008. Because I focus on national security and foreign policy, along with military matters, I offer the video to give you a glimpse into what our national security might be under the Democratic rising star. This change of heart is why he and his wife Michelle will likely be watching Tennessee this November. So turning to that state, which now has Harold Ford, Jr. neck and neck with Corker, it's time to ask a question that could also apply to any aspirations of Senator Obama.

MR. HARWOOD: In all three of those states, one of the key dynamics is the rural turnout vs. the big city turnout. And in Tennessee, is there a hidden white vote against an African-American candidate?
Meet the Press

The polls are one thing, but when a voter gets alone with his or her ballot, will he or she vote for an African American? That question is up front and center in Tennessee this November.

Harold Ford, Jr. loves Jesus and says so out loud. He even ran an ad filmed inside a church. He has the Ten Commandments on the back of cards he gives out to voters.

Harold Ford, Jr. is a hawk, but he wants to change course on Iraq and has no problem articulating it. He is against "partial-birth" abortion. He also knows how to fight, especially when his family is attacked.

In other others, Harold Ford, Jr. is a moderate to conservative Democrat. There is no way he can be tagged a liberal or left winger, though the RNC has done everything to try, including practically calling him a pimp with their racist "Fancy Ford" website.

Now Ford has the cover of Newsweek. There's a lot of powerful momentum going his way. But in the end will Tennessee vote black? After all, it's a mostly white state. Can they throw off their southern heritage and any prejudice they may have regarding race? If they can't what will it mean for Barack Obama?

This country is still racially challenged, to put it delicately. I grew up in one of the most racially volatile states in the country, Missouri. I remember the day blacks were bused into my high school. I had a knife pulled on me in the quadrangle; not because she wanted to hurt me, but because she was as freaked as the rest of us. The KKK was at home in Missouri and even my devoutly Christian mother had her prejudices, which to this day boggles my mind when thinking back on them.

Americans say one thing in public, but another in private. Just ask George Allen, whose racist reality has never been exposed, because fellow Virginians who knew about it kept it quiet and gave him a pass because he was a good old boy. But finally, in the election of 2006, Allen was caught off guard and cornered on camera where his racist underbelly reared its ugly center. However, Virginians may still give this racist a pass, though I hope not. It's alarming when you think about it.

So, will Tennessee vote black?

Will they embrace a conservative, religious Democrat who also happens to be black?

If the answer is no that just might pose a challenge for Barack Obama. No doubt he and his gorgeous, intelligent and accomplished wife Michelle are pondering that reality and many others right now, including if he could live through a White House run, which is a sad thing to ponder in modern America.

That's why it's likely, along with the Fords, the Obamas will be watching Tennessee this November. As Tennessee votes so votes the nation? Even in 2006, I wonder.