WASHINGTON – J.C. Watts, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate, is not even certain he will vote for John McCain this year.
He’s also very unhappy with the Republican Party.
The thought that the former member of the Republican congressional leadership might actually consider voting for Barack Obama came up over the weekend when the Associated Press reported just that in a story pointing out conservative pundit Armstrong Williams and former Secretary of State Colin Powell were thinking about it – and had good things to say about the Democratic nominee.
Is Watts serious about Obama?
“Well, no, I didn’t say that,” he told Sean Hannity on his national radio show today. “What I said in the article was that I was a free agent. No one should assume that J.C. Watts should vote one way.”
Watts, a former Southern Baptist associate pastor, blasted the Republican Party for taking both blacks for granted and evangelical Christians.
“Pastors need to be careful in this endorsement game,” he said.
He also said he was disappointed at the way the Republican Party leadership and John McCain’s campaign include not a single black American.
Shocking many in the Republican fold, the Associated Press reported over the weekend Watts was thinking of voting for Obama.
Watts was quoted as saying: “I think all of America can take some pride in this (Barack Obama’s success in getting the Democratic nomination).”
Asked by Hannity if the McCain campaign had courted him, he said: “I’ve not talked to anyone.”
The former Oklahoma congressman criticized the Republican Party for neglecting the black community. Black Republicans, he said, have to concede that while they might not agree with Democrats on issues, at least that party reaches out to them.
“And Obama highlights that even more,” Watts said, adding that he expects Obama to take on issues such as poverty and urban policy. “Republicans often seem indifferent to those things.”
Another Republican, former radio talk-show host and columnist Armstrong Williams, said he was considering a vote for Obama.
“I don’t necessarily like his policies; I don’t like much that he advocates, but for the first time in my life, history thrusts me to really seriously think about it,” Williams said. “I can honestly say I have no idea who I’m going to pull that lever for in November. And to me, that’s incredible.”
Williams added: “Among black conservatives, they tell me privately, it would be very hard to vote against him in November.”
Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, said both candidates are qualified and that he will not necessarily vote for the Republican.
“I will vote for the individual I think that brings the best set of tools to the problems of 21st-century America and the 21st-century world regardless of party, regardless of anything else other than the most qualified candidate,” Powell said Thursday in Vancouver.
Writer and actor Joseph C. Phillips, who also writes a weekly column, has called himself an “Obamacan” – Obama Republican. Phillips, who appeared on “The Cosby Show” as Denise Huxtable’s husband, Navy Lt. Martin Kendall, said he has wavered since, but he is still thinking about voting for Obama.
“I am wondering if this is the time where we get over the hump, where an Obama victory will finally, at long last, move us beyond some of the old conversations about race,” Phillips said. “That possibly, just possibly, this great country can finally be forgiven for its original sin, or find some absolution.”