A Conversation With Hillary’

Black Press Questions Candidate About AIDS, Racial Profiling and Ferraro’s Remarks at Forum

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sat with members of the black press in Washington on Wednesday night for an hour-long forum called “A Conversation with Hillary.”

Approximately 40 guests listened to Senator Clinton field questions about concerns of the African-American community from correspondents of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the sponsors of the small engagement at the Hilton Washington hotel.

Sitting center-stage in a hot-pink wool coat and black slacks, Clinton opened by praising the black press saying, among other things, “Many of your publications have been at the forefront of civil rights and women’s rights, and so many historical movements.”

Then it was on to tackling the issues.

One that has become of considerable concern within the African-American community is the subject of HIV/AIDS. Clinton said that, if president, she would be forceful on confronting the issue.

“I would be very aggressive in going into communities and working, in partnership, with organizations such as this, with faith communities, and others, to revitalize our public education and outreach,” she said, while propping up sternly in her chair.

Clinton also answered questions about remarks made by 1984 vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who resigned earlier Wednesday as a member of Clinton’s finance committee. Ferraro said of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: “If Obamawas a white man, he would not be in this position.”

“I regret that [the comments] were said,” Clinton responded. “She doesn’t speak for the campaign. She doesn’t speak for any of my positions.”

On the topic of racial profiling, Clinton said more can and should be done to control the problem.

“It goes to the heart to ensure that our criminal justice system in particular our policing practices are held to a higher standard,” she said.

Martin Jones, 55, said he hopes that if Clinton is elected she follows through with her proposal of assessing more accountability on law enforcement.

“This is an issue that, for a black man, is a constant, everyday issue,” Jones said. “I hope she does what she says if she does get in, and take it as seriously as we do.”

In talking about the continuing efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast region in the nearly three years since Hurricane Katrina hit, Clinton says that, if elected, she vows to make sure continued reconstruction is a “very high priority” for the federal government. “We owe it to the people along the Gulf Coast to continue that standard.”

In addition to Ferraro’s remarks, Clinton took time to speak about other controversies surrounding her campaign. Recently, she has been accused of insinuating that Obama may not be ready for the presidency, but would make a viable vice president.

While holding a front page headline in the Richmond Free Press that read “Clinton-Obama Ticket?” NNPA Editor-in-Chief Hazel Trice Edney asked Clinton the possibility of being the second in command if Obama, in fact, got the party nomination.

Clinton’s response: “We’ll finish some time in June, and we’ll see where we stand. Only then will someone have the nomination, and only then will the nominee have the chance to pick a running mate.”

As part of Black Press Week, the NNPA will host a similar session tonight at the Hilton Washington hotel, this time with Obama.