Black conservatives conflicted on Obama campaign By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 14, 7:18 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Black conservative talk show host Armstrong Williams has never voted for a Democrat for president. That could change this year with Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's nominee.
"I don't necessarily like his policies; I don't like much that he advocates, but for the first time in my life, history thrusts me to really seriously think about it," Williams said. "I can honestly say I have no idea who I'm going to pull that lever for in November. And to me, that's incredible."
Just as Obama has touched black Democratic voters, he has engendered conflicting emotions among black Republicans. They revel over the possibility of a black president but wrestle with the thought that the Illinois senator doesn't sit beside them ideologically.
"Among black conservatives," Williams said, "they tell me privately, it would be very hard to vote against him in November."
J.C. Watts, a former Oklahoma congressman who once was part of the GOP House leadership, said he's thinking of voting for Obama. Watts said he's still a Republican, but he criticizes his party for neglecting the black community. Black Republicans, he said, have to concede that while they might not agree with Democrats on issues, at least that party reaches out to them.
"And Obama highlights that even more," Watts said, adding that he expects Obama to take on issues such as poverty and urban policy. "Republicans often seem indifferent to those things."
Likewise, retired Gen. Colin Powell, who became the country's first black secretary of state under President George W. Bush, said both candidates are qualified and that he will not necessarily vote for the Republican.