A key Pennsylvania surrogate to Sen. Hillary Clinton accused the media on Thursday of having a "double standard" in the way it has reported the issue of race in the 2008 Democratic primary.
Speaking at an event in Washington D.C., Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said that the press had willfully ignored the historical significance of Clinton's attempt to be the first woman president, while still playing up Sen. Barack Obama's own ground-breaking run.
"Both of these candidate represent historic opportunities," Nutter told The Huffington Post. "I think somehow in all of this, apparently it has been lost that Sen. Clinton is a woman. And so a female president of the United States is historic, is monumental, and represents a dramatic step forward for progress here in the United States of America. In addition, of course, to Sen. Obama, who is an African American man."
But the problem with the 2008 press coverage, he added, was more systemic than simply denying Clinton her historical due. In addition, there was an unfair assumption that African-American officials, such as himself, should naturally be supporting Sen. Barack Obama at the expense of independent judgment.
"There is all this discussion about African American leaders and who they should support," Nutter said. "I do find that interesting that I don't seem to hear the same thing from the news media about white elected officials and why they are not supporting Sen. Clinton. There is a double standard here and I think we need to cut it out."
Nutter is one of many high-ranking public officials supporting Clinton in the Keystone State. But on the national stage, he has been somewhat distinguished as a prominent African-American leader in her camp. Nutter noted that Clinton had a portfolio of policy ideas that would benefit urban communities (more money for education grants, expanding health care coverage, etc.), and dismissed the notion that his surrogacy for the former first lady put him at uncomfortable odds with the city he represented.
"I got elected as the mayor of Philadelphia and yes I am black. But my responsibility is to all the citizens of the city," he said. "I went through a decision making process, I met with both candidates on a couple of occasions, I talked about the issues that I thought matter to Philadelphia."
The mayor expected a Clinton victory in Pennsylvania and rejected the idea that, in order to show her long-term viability, her win had to be of the double-digit variety: "When you win a Super Bowl it doesn't matter how many points you win by."
Reminded that, back in February 2007, he had predicted Obama would ultimately end up the nation's next president, Nutter backtracked, saying that forecast was meant to bolster what was then his own long-shot run for the mayor's office.
"It wasn't so much a prediction," he recalled. "We were at a high school sponsored candidates forum and we were asked who do you think will be the democratic nominee or who will be the next president. I said I thought Sen. Obama. Now, at that point, I was at fifth place. Since I was a long shot and it appeared to me that he was a long shot, I was trying to get some solidarity with the long shots."
Had his political crystal ball changed?
"Absolutely," Nutter replied, saying he thought Clinton would now win. "Obviously, I had no way of knowing that we would be where we are here today... [Back then] I was trying to give little hope to my own candidacy."