This seems like quite a reckless accusation from Bob Herbert:

"One of the main problems, of course, is that [Obama] hasn’t generated as much support as he’d like among white working-class voters. There is no mystery here. Except for people who have been hiding in caves or living in denial, it’s pretty widely understood that a substantial number of those voters — in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere — will not vote for a black candidate for president."
Essentially, Herbert is saying that most white working-class people who don't vote for Obama won't vote for a black president, and that Obama's race is the reason they haven't/won't vote for him. It's no secret that Obama has consistently lost the white working-class vote to Hillary. But here, Herbert ascribes a racist motive to "a substantial number of those voters," which is a direct reference to "white working-class voters." This assertion is wholly unsubstantiated, and incredibly reckless. Herbert relies on anecdotal evidence of racism from "Pennsylvanians themselves," and a two-month-old observation from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell that some white people might not vote for a black presidential candidate (which, but for his position as Governor, is hardly a remarkable statement). It's one thing to say that Obama has not done well among white working-class voters, and that there are white working-class voters who won't vote for a black presidential candidate; but it's another thing entirely to say that Obama has not done well among white working-class voters because "a substantial number" of them won't vote for a black presidential candidate. Herbert backtracks later in the column, admitting that it's "not racist to vote against" Obama. But that disclaimer rings hollow -- there's simply no getting around the fact that Herbert already ascribed a racist motive to "a substantial number of [white working-class] voters." Not Bob Herbert's finest hour.

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