7. What would you do specifically to address unemployment among black men?
Data show that most job gains last month were made among black women, while black men continue to struggle to recover from the Great Recession. A recent Princeton study found that black men remain targets of discrimination in hiring, making the recovery even harder for them. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that he believes Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place in tackling this issue because the president is a black man and faces undue scrutiny from conservatives for policies related to our community.
Well, an easy way to spread the scrutiny around would be to ask Romney and the president during the same debate what specifically they would do to aid this demographic, in light of studies showing the discrimination black men face. Such a question could be a watershed moment for presidential debates and hopefully for progress for our community.
8. If, on election night, your opponent offered to meet with you on a regular basis in a spirit of bipartisanship to discuss ideas for moving the country forward — the way many ex-presidents work together in solving issues across party lines — would you be willing to do it, regardless of which one of you wins?
Candidates pay a lot of lip service to things like “bipartisanship,” but that’s talk. You learn by watching what people do. For instance, John McCain (R-Ariz.) was one of the Senate’s greatest champions of bipartisanship, until he lost to someone he didn’t really like. But if Romney or Obama committed to working together in some way, regardless of who wins, that would tell us more about their commitment to bipartisanship than their speeches.
9. Do you think President Obama receives more criticism because of his race?
This question would be controversial. But sometimes it takes a controversial question to spark a long-overdue conversation. A Romney supporter sported a racist T-shirt at a recent Romney event. While the shirt certainly can’t be considered representative of all Romney supporters, it served as a reminder that one of the reasons certain people don’t like the president is his race, yet discussing that has been relegated to the back burner, as though it doesn’t matter. It does.
When you have black Republicans calling the criticism of Obama by some Romney surrogates racist, that may not make the allegations true, but it does make them worthy of discussion — including by the president and his opponent.
Please feel free to weigh in with your own questions in the comments section.
Keli Goff is The Root’s political correspondent.