Race and the Democrats

by Steve Handlesman
NBC News

The still-sensitive issue of race was again out front Monday in the close Democratic race for the White House.

Accused by Barack Obama of offending some African Americans, Hillary Clinton and her husband worked to defuse the issue.

Jesse Jackson is worried that this could divide Democrats.

And it looked that way Monday when Hillary Clinton got a warm welcome as she spoke to a large African American audience at a Martin Luther King celebration in New York.
"We may differ on minor matters but when it comes to what is really important we are family," said Clinton. "Each of us, no matter who we are and where we started from, is a beneficiary of Dr. King."

It was a week ago that Clinton asserted that Martin Luther King's dreams became laws in part due to President Lyndon Johnson.

A way to say that Barack Obama's dreams alone can't change America. 
Obama on Sunday fired back on the phone to reporters, saying: "Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill-advised remark about King and Lyndon Johnson."

Bill Clinton escalated to the word "racist" Monday, on Tom Joyner's radio show.

"No one should be able to accuse someone like Hillary of being a racist," said the former President.

Jesse Jackson is worried.

"If they stay in this kind of 'a tit for tat' fight, it could become uglier and divisive in the days ahead," said Jackson.

In South Carolina's primary next week African American women will be the biggest block of Democrats.

"The Clintons have to be very careful how they attack Barack Obama. They, of course, want to undermine his candidacy but they want to do so without ticking off black women," said Brown University Political Science Professor Darrell West.
A tough balance for the first woman and first black man with a shot at the White House.

Many political experts figure that at least in South Carolina, race trumps gender for African American women voters.