1:26 pm Jun. 27, 2012
(Obama had declined to support Rangel in 2010, too, and all but urged him to retire.)
Rangel suggested that the president simply had too many pressing issues to get involved in a local primary in New York. But that explanation went out the window when Obama announced endorsements of other New York congress members facing primary challenges: Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose 7th congressional district includes parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, and Rep. Yvette Clarke in Brooklyn's 9th congressional district.
The Rangel campaign ended up using Obama's image on their literature anyway.
At Rangel's victory party last night, I asked a few people whether they thought Obama's decision not to help Rangel had an impact on the race.
Former Governor David Paterson said it didn't, and that it won't hurt Obama come November.
Recalling Obama's comment that Rangel should leave office "with dignity" in 2010, when the congressman was under investigation for ethics violations, Paterson said, "It's not surprising that he didn't endorse him then and he didn't endorse him this year."
"I think a lot of people resented that, but when it comes to the presidential race, every single one of them will vote for President Obama."
Paterson added, "I don't think they like what he did and they went out and showed what they thought of his non-endorsement, but he's in a fortunate situation that every single of those people … will vote for him in November."
Assemblyman Herman (Denny) Farrell, a longtime Rangel ally and former Manhattan Democratic chair, told me, "No. If it had any impact, the last piece of literature would have you thinking he was with us anyway."
After Rangel made his victory speech, I asked him what impact he thought the president's non-endorsement had on his race. He said the question wasn't relevant.
"Obama was not a part of this race," he said. "You know it and I do. And with all the problems that our nation face[s], why the press would bring this up—I try to be nice and kind and gentle but you may ask me what the U.N. Secretary—what impact he had on the race. I think it's a question that's geared for you to get some copy because you really know the president had nothing to do with this race."