September 28th, 2011
05:17 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - President Obama always takes a broader view on issues of race and his policies. He likes to point out that whether he’s pushing for health care reform or more jobs, all Americans not just blacks stand to benefit.
This approach has not gone unnoticed.
Now, as the president courts black voters who were key to his success in 2008, some of them are less than enthusiastic.
"I think the expectations, however unrealistic, from the community are higher for him to quote un quote help us," said Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan, one of Washington DC’s top urban radio morning hosts. “That being said, I still think many people are very very supportive of President Obama,” he added.
Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of The Root, a daily online African American magazine, has heard the exasperation.
"There's a segment of the community that feels he could have targeted more efforts towards the African American community,” he said before defending the President. “I don't think it's feasible in this country politically."
One of the big criticisms is that President Obama has not adequately addressed the high unemployment rate among blacks. The latest figures from The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that number at 16.7% much higher than the national average of 9.1%.
"For African Americans it's been devastating for the last four or five years. For as bad as it been for the majority community, the white community, it's much worse for blacks, " said Dreyfuss.
President Obama understands that Americans are frustrated, but he’s paying close attention to his base as he ramps up his 2012 campaign and fundraising efforts.
Recently he sat down for a one-on-one interview with Black Entertainment Television, and delivered an impassioned speech before a Congressional Black Caucus event.
He acknowledged the economic crisis had taken a toll on an already “hard hit black community.”
"You've got to be a little crazy to have faith during such hard times," he told the audience.
Representative Maxine waters, D-California, said she was pleased that the president had given attention to a problem some feel he has long ignored.
"That's extremely important that people understand that the president gets it."
But a little air leaked out of that warm feeling when the president seemed to chastise African American leaders in that CBC speech.
“I am going to press on for jobs,” he said, then told those in the room, “I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.”
Rep. Waters said she found the comments “curious,” and she speculated that the president had gone “off script.”
A White House official said that in fact it was an ad-lib moment, but insisted that “it was meant as a rallying cry,” and added that the audience gave the president more than a warm embrace.
While some African Americans may be frowning at the president, they are not smiling at the options.
That’s why Morgan, who voted for Obama in 2008 remains optimistic.
"I think they will come back out again. It's about engaging them It's about speaking directly or indirectly to them about the issues that effect them, " Morgan said.
Some strategists question whether the president will be able to generate the kind of enthusiasm that sent a large number of young black voters to the polls in 2008. In a tight race, which some of the president’s own senior campaign officials have predicted, it could be a factor.
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