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The Gray Area Of Race And Politics

On the presidential campaign trail: Republican John McCain addressed the NAACP today. Meanwhile, Americans remain deeply divided on the issue of race. In the /New York Times poll, 55 percent of whites believe race relations are good. But only 29 percent of blacks feel that way. CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield has the story.


John McCain spoke to the most venerable black organization in America today - with words of praise for the candidate he'll be tying to defeat.

Today at the NAACP Convention, McCain said: "Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing, for himself and his country, and I thank him for it."

But, when he talked about school choice and economic opportunity and conservative alternatives to liberal policies, was McCain really talking to black voters? Or was he talking to white voters who might be uneasy about voting against a black candidate?

Professor Michael Fauntroy of George Mason University shared his views: "Most of the moderate Republicans do not want to be associated or rather do not feel comfortable being associated with a party that is being known as hard right, so McCain in speaking to the NAACP helps to take off some of the edge."

And who was Barack Obama speaking to on Monday when he once again hit the theme of black responsibility?

"I know that nine little children didn't walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere in the community," Obama said.

Fauntroy says, "In speaking and using the tone that he, has I think what he's really doing is trying to reach out to independent white voters, whom he has been leaking recently to say, 'listen, I'm not this scary black guy that you have to worry about.'"

The idea that both candidates at an African-American event may be aiming at white voters; and our new poll shows sharp divisions between whites and blacks about the state of race relations and is more evidence of how incredibly tangled this whole area of race and politics is.

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