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Clinton apologizes to black voters

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Written on 2:43 PM by yahoo

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Can Sen. Hillary Clinton stem eroding support from black voters in the wake of racially controversial remarks by former congresswoman and Clinton fundraiser, Geraldine Ferraro?

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Sen. Clinton at the National Newspaper Publishers Association event in D.C. Wednesday.

That's the big question Clinton now faces as she hits the campaign trail before Pennsylvania's crucial April 22 primary.

Clinton found herself back in the hot seat Wednesday, after facing the fallout from racially charged remarks by Ferraro -- a former New York congresswoman and Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Ferraro resigned from the campaign Wednesday after widespread criticism over her comments about Obama's race, originally published late last week in the Torrance, California, Daily Breeze.

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept," she said.

At a gathering of black newspaper publishers on Wednesday, Clinton tried to make amends.

"I rejected what she said and I certainly do repudiate it," Clinton said at the National Newspaper Publishers Association meeting in Washington.

Clinton was full of apologies before this group as she was confronted with various perceived offenses, including remarks considered racially insensitive that her husband, former President Clinton, made on the campaign trail.

"I'm sorry if anyone was offended. It certainly was not meant in anyway to be offensive," she said.

She even apologized for President Bush's lackluster response regarding Hurricane Katrina.

"I apologize and I am embarrassed that our federal government so mistreated our citizens."

Her aides say this is not a mea culpa tour, but rather a clear message that she has not given up on the black vote.

"So the numbers are skewed and it appears that we are losing ground in the African American community. She is not conceding that vote whatsoever," a Clinton spokesperson said.

But looking ahead, she certainly has her work cut out for her.

While Obama has steadily seen his African American support grow -- 78 percent in South Carolina, 90 percent in Virginia and 92 percent in Mississippi -- Clinton has lost ground.

"They're open to her, but at this point they're kind of lukewarm because of the disparaging comments of some of her people, not necessarily hers," said John Smith, chairman of the NNPA.

While Clinton tries to minimize the damage, she is leaning on loyalists.

One of her biggest fans is Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, seated in the critical state of Pennsylvania, where she'll campaign relentlessly in an effort to deny Obama a clean sweep in the rest of the nation's contests.

cnn

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