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Sharpton: No apology for Tawana Brawley hoax.


Click for video of Sharpton on CBS defending Tawana Brawley hoax.

Al Sharpton, Obama’s unofficial ambassador to the black community.

From Wall Street Journal…

Mr. Sharpton has been to the White House five times since Mr. Obama took office, most recently this month as part of a small group meeting with economics advisor Lawrence Summers. Mr. Sharpton’s radio program, which airs in 27 markets, has become a friendly platform for administration officials to address black listeners, allowing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, for example, to take credit for a recent $1.25 billion settlement with black farmers who had sued the government for discrimination.

Now there are signs that Mr. Sharpton will play a role in this fall’s midterm elections. Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy Kaine conferred with Mr. Sharpton this month on sending him to black churches and neighborhoods in politically important states to register and mobilize black voters.

For the president, the alliance with Mr. Sharpton carries risk. Where Mr. Obama has worked hard to mute race as part of his persona, Mr. Sharpton is famous for inflaming racial sensitivities, as when he represented Tawana Brawley, the black teenager whose 1987 claims of rape by several white men were discredited.

Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, America’s first elected black governor, said that Mr. Obama “went to great lengths to show that he is the president for all people, not just some people.” Outreach to Mr. Sharpton, while shoring up black support, could hurt that image, he said.

“Sharpton brings a profile, whatever you think of it,” said Mr. Wilder. “When he first got known was with the Tawana Brawley incident. A lot of people still remember it, and many of those old enough to remember it still haven’t gotten over it.”

Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Obama’s aides viewed any partnership with Mr. Sharpton as potentially damaging. Mr. Obama personally took steps to head off a likely visit by Mr. Sharpton to Iowa before that state’s caucuses, according to the book “The Audacity to Win,” by David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager.