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How we should judge a candidate

January 22, 2007

Re "Black leaders not yet sold on Obama," Jan. 19

Isn't it racist to assume that someone would vote for a candidate just because they share the same skin color? Wouldn't it be racist if someone did vote for a candidate just because they shared the same skin color? In this enlightened day and age, aren't we supposed to be promoting racial tolerance and equality? Why then does The Times seem so surprised that many black people are not automatically supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)? Those voters are only displaying the behavior that liberals have been pushing for all along: They're ignoring the color of Obama's skin and judging him instead by his words, thoughts and actions.

JOHN PATTISON

El Monte

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In all the talk of Obama's possible presidential candidacy, I've heard no references to 1976. That year, Republicans were as tainted by the legacy of the Nixon presidency as they are currently by Bush. At that time, nearly any Democratic candidate would have beaten President Ford, but it was clear that the public wanted a clean sweep of Washington, hence the nomination of Washington novice Jimmy Carter. Obama has two years to learn how Washington works, but the excitement over him can be undone as much by making the wrong political associations as the wrong moves over the next year and a half. In particular, he'd be advised to keep self- and media-appointed spokespersons for African Americans such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-L.A.) at arm's length.

RICK MITCHELL

Los Angeles

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