Can Al Sharpton win the 2004 presidential elections?

The Rev. Al Sharpton announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The day before, as part of the King celebration, political big wigs Sen. Hillary Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended an event at Sharpton’s headquarters, which houses the National Action Network. The day after, Sharpton tossed his hat into the ring and the NAN caught fire. “It’s weird to me,” Mr. Sharpton said.

Support is coming from the likes of David Dinkins and Dennis Rivera. Rivera, head of the state’s largest healthcare union, said the union would donate $25,000 to help the recovery effort and offered the temporary use of the union’s offices in Midtown.

The media have begun a negative spin on Sharpton’s presidential run, with its so-called consensus polls. One poll has 87 percent not taking his candidacy very seriously. Obviously, that poll was not taken in the black and Hispanic communities. In the 2000 election, Al Gore received 91 percent of the black vote. The majority of black voters were disgruntled by the way the election went down with the Florida voting fiasco. Those same voters endorsing Sharpton would not seem unreasonable.

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows a steady decline of public support for President Bush’s economic policies and his handling of foreign affairs over the last 12 months. The upcoming war on Iraq could backfire on the Bush Administration, creating a mistrust of the government. That’s why Bush is becoming frustrated. The last thing he wants is daily casualty reports if the war drags on into the election year.

The spiraling economy is creating a larger percentage of poor whites; for Al Sharpton, that’s an untapped voter base. And, of course, black and Hispanic Americans have their own grievances, such as unemployment, education, healthcare, racism, unequal wages, etc., unavoidable issues with Sharpton running.

The list of Democratic candidates so far doesn’t seem formidable enough to frighten a brave heart like Sharpton. The most noteworthy, Sen. Joe Lieberman, as a Jewish Democrat, will have to overcome his own obstacles. The years of attack against Sharpton’s integrity and conviction will prove to be an asset to Sharpton. He can debate with the best.

When the election gets closer, and Sharpton builds momentum, he can overcome the lack of money issue with fundraisers and donations. Everyone loves a winner. And if you heard the Reverend speak, he’s definitely charismatic enough to maintain a positive outlook that could galvanize enough votes to make a difference.

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