During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has been relying heavily on African American voters to fend off the stiff challenge that she is getting from Bernie Sanders. So far the strategy has been working. Clinton won the Nevada Caucus thanks, in part, to support from that state’s African Americans. She is favored to win in South Carolina and across the South for the same reason. Bernie Sanders, her chief rival, has been trying to court the black vote, but thus far not enough to overcome Clinton.


A new ad from the Republican National Committee may give Sanders some ammunition, albeit some that he has thus far been reluctant to fire. The RNC ad reminds black voters about the bitter 2008 Democratic primary contest that pitted Clinton against a then relatively unknown United States senator named Barack Obama. Clinton, then as now, believed that the Democratic nomination for the presidency was hers by right. Obama came from nowhere and took the honor away from her and went on to be elected to two terms.

2008 featured remarkable accusations against Clinton of using racially charged language against Obama. Even her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had the “race card played” against him. The strategy worked, despite the fact that Bill Clinton was very popular with black voters during his presidency. The irony was delicious to conservative analysts, used to the charge of racism being hurled against the right.

The RNC ad seems aimed at helping Sanders at the expense of Clinton. While neither Clinton nor Sanders are very electable, for different reasons, Sanders is considered especially toxic.


The Republicans are betting that few people will care to elect a septuagenarian socialist with a somewhat sordid past that includes writing pornography to the presidency.

In any case, the RNC seems to be conducting what Rush Limbaugh called “operation chaos” in 2008, trying to keep the Democratic contest alive as long as possible. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is still under investigation by the FBI. A criminal referral to the Justice Department would be a game changer for a presidential contest that has already seemed surreal.