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TONY COX, host:

This is News & Notes. I'm Tony Cox. Much has been made of Barack Obama's challenges in appealing to white working-class voters. But one political watcher says Obama doesn't need that demographic in order to win. News & Notes web producer Geoffrey Bennett joins me now to explain. Hey, Geoff.


COX: Listen, yesterday we had Ron Walters on the show, as you know, talking about the evolution of black presidential candidates. And he also wrote a piece for our blog which challenged the conventional wisdom about Barack Obama's campaign. Tell us about that.

BENNETT: Right, well it's part of our new online political series. Ron Walters, who's a professor at the University of Maryland says, quote "There is the distinct possibility that a great deal of the loss of blue-collar whites could be made up by the new coalition that Obama promises to bring into the fall election." And then he goes on to break down the numbers making the case that Obama should focus on increasing turnout among groups that are more likely to vote for a Democratic ticket, he says like blacks and Hispanics.

Now in response, Paulette wrote in our blog, "I agree. The Obama campaign needs to focus their attention on sure bets. Those who want to come, will, those who won't, won't." And another reader named Marian (ph) wrote, "Obama has a lot of appeal to a cross-section of Americans and he needs to build on that base." So people are continuing to talk about that.

COX: And I also see that we have another installment of our other online series, Speak Your Mind.

BENNETT: Yeah we do. This one comes from Moji Odirende (ph) of Florida who writes about the perceived sexism and racism in the Democratic primary race, particularly with Senator Clinton alleging that sexism has something to do with the unraveling of her campaign. Moji, in her essay, points to what she says are several of Clinton's strategic mistakes and asks the question, what does sexism have to do with these missteps of this campaign? So people are responding to her essay coming down on both sides of the issue.

COX: Here's something else. We observed Memorial Day earlier this week, of course and I've read online that Spike Lee is speaking out in support of black World War II soldiers. What's the story there?

BENNETT: During a recent press conference, Spike Lee criticized director Clint Eastwood for failing to include any black soldiers in his two recent World War II films, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima." So for his part, Lee is set to release a film in the fall about the buffalo soldiers called "The Miracle at Saint Anna." And he's also working on a full-length documentary about Michael Jordan. So we got to talking about that in our blog, to which reader T. Rogers wrote, "If Spike can give a more holistic look at Mike the man, then fine. However, if it is just a basketball film, then I'll pass."

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: I'll pass, that's clever. We've got less than 30 seconds. What else are people talking about on the blog?

BENNETT: Well there's a 19-year-old black construction worker in South Carolina who just won the Powerball jackpot of 35.3 million dollars.

COX: Whoa.

BENNETT: Yeah, his name is Anthony Vargas, I believe, so we're talking about that. And he says he already has an accountant and he wants to get a lawyer and a financial planner to make sure that he is best able to spend that 35 million.

COX: I guess maybe he will finding some new friends too, won't he?

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: Geoff, thank you very much. Geoffrey Bennett is the web producer for News & Notes. He joined me from our studios here at NPR West.

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