Obama Seeks To Energize Black Vote In New Orleans Speech

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
President Barack Obama ends four days of travel Wednesday with a speech in New Orleans to the National Urban League that will seek to energize the African-American base for his reelection bid in November.

President Obama offers compromise over contraception controversy on Friday, February 10, 2012 - Religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage and onsurers will be required to offer coverage for free to women who work at such institutions.

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama ends four days of travel Wednesday with a speech in New Orleans to the National Urban League that will seek to energize the African-American base for his reelection bid in November.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters earlier Wednesday that Obama will announce in his speech an executive order aimed at helping African-American students get the best education possible.

The executive order will establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, intended to "ensure that all African-American students can receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers," said a White House official on condition of not being identified.

Obama's address comes in the wake of a new report by the National Urban League Policy Institute that warned the president could lose three key battleground states -- Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio -- if African-American voters don't match their strong turnout of 2008 in this year's election.

"African-American voters tipped the outcome of the 2008 presidential election in several key states, and are poised to do so again in 2012," said the report titled "The Hidden Swing Voters: Impact of African-Americans in 2012" by Madura Wijewardena and Valerie Wilson.

"How this will manifest will depend on many things, but one important factor will be whether the extraordinary growth in turnout by African-American voters in 2008 will be replicated in 2012," the report continued. "The 2008 voter turnout rate was driven by historic factors that may not necessarily apply in 2012."

The "historic factors" reference was to Obama being the nation's first African-American nominee of a major party, with voters having the opportunity in 2008 to make him the nation's first African-American president.

This time, an economy struggling to recover from a recession that hit African-Americans particularly hard has raised questions about whether Obama supporters will have the same fervor as they did four years ago.

A recent Gallup poll showed the president with overwhelming support among registered African-American voters, with backing of 89%, compared with 5% for certain Republican nominee Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama won 95% of the African-American vote, with 4% voting for GOP candidate John McCain.

A decline in African-American voter turnout to the 2004 level of 60% from the 2008 level of 64.7% would cause Obama to lose in North Carolina and possibly lose in Ohio and Virginia, the new report said.

Obama won all three states in 2008, and most scenarios for Obama's re-election depend on him winning at least two of them this time. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, while North Carolina has 15 and Virginia has 13.

The president's speech concludes a four-day, six-state swing that started earlier than planned Sunday so that he could visit Aurora, Colorado, after last week's mass shooting at a movie theater.

Obama also held campaign events in California, Oregon and Washington; spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nevada; then traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday for more campaign events and the speech to the National Urban League.

A fierce start to the election campaign, with the candidates and their supporting super-PACs launching bitter attacks, has made ensuring enthusiastic backing from traditional support bases a key to victory in November.

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