8.30.2008

Take Another Look - political analyst Jamal Simmons

Jamal Simmons, is the president of New Future Communications. He is an experienced media consultant of and one of the new and diverse voices of political analysis on CNN. At the age of 37, his list of accomplishments reads as one of a man twice his age.


He has handled media issues on five continents for the U.S. government, political organizations, non-profits and corporations. He has worked as a senior aide to several Democratic political candidates serving as traveling press secretary to 2004 presidential candidates Sen. Bob Graham and Retired Gen. Wesley Clark. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Mr. Simmons managed media relations in 40 states for Al Gore before spending four weeks in West Palm Beach as a Gore spokesman during the Florida recount effort.


Prior to that, he served as chief of staff to U.S. Congresswoman and current Congressional Black Caucus Chair Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) and as a political appointee in the Clinton Administration under U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. Mr. Simmons got his start in politics and communications by managing logistics for dozens of national reporters while traveling with President Bill Clinton during his successful 1992 presidential campaign.

With confetti at our feet, and the smoke and smell of gunpowder from fireworks still in the air, I talked with Jamal about a variety of topics immediately following Sen. Barack Obama’s historic acceptance speech on Aug. 28, 2008 at INVESCO Field in Denver.

Regarding Sen. Obama’s speech Jamal said, “It was a beautiful speech, there were beautiful images here and what people saw today is somebody who wants to lead America in a new direction, to make sure that we defend ourselves against our enemies and that we talk very directly to people whether we agree with them or not. We saw somebody who wants to have health care and education,” said Mr. Simmons.

“In America people have realized for awhile that we’ve got real big issues that we have to face. They want a president that is going to focus on those big issues and stop being so consumed with all the petty politics going on. If that wasn’t the case, we would never have had a Barack Obama to even get to this point to be the nominee. People are so ready to deal with the big issues, they are willing to look past their own personal issues and invest in someone who is new on the scene that they think is going to take the country in the direction that it needs to go.”


Addressing the apparent changing of the guard within the Black community as it relates to Black leadership, he was forthright with his answer.


“I think we are at a position in Black America where we want to make sure we have leaders who are actually going to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. You’re seeing that all over the country with the kind of solid leadership that is being produced. It may not make a lot of people happy in some of the older generations” he said.


Jamal believes that it is an oversimplification to say that Sen. Barack Obama’s overwhelming support from Blacks is simply because he is Black.


“People say African Americans are voting for Barack Obama because he is Black, but that’s not necessarily the case, because you can see we’ve had other Black candidates and people didn’t rally around them the same way. People are voting for Barack Obama because they think he is capable and competent and he is going to lead the country in another direction.”


As a political analyst, who is often younger than his colleagues in “The Situation Room” on CNN, Jamal says he tries to keep his analysis very simple so that everyone listening and viewing can understand.


“My objective is to make sure that whatever I say is kept plain and is kept to the point where people can understand the point that I am trying to make. I think a lot of times, people are trying to make politics more complicated than it really is. Politics is really very simple. People just want to know "Can I trust you when you’re sitting in that room by yourself when nobody is looking?" and "can I trust you to look out for me and my family?’" Everything else other than that is really just rhetoric.”

(For more information about Jamal Simmons, go to www.jamalsimmons.com)
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