by Josh Margolin/The Star-Ledger
A Democratic superdelegate from New Jersey said he is worried that unifying the party behind Barack Obama may be difficult because the Clinton camp "has engaged in some very divisive tactics and rhetoric it should not have."
Rep. Rob Andrews, who supported Hillary Clinton throughout the primary season, disclosed he received a phone call shortly before the April 22 Pennsylvania primary from a top member of Clinton's organization and that the caller explicitly discussed a strategy of winning Jewish voters by exploiting tensions between Jews and African-Americans.
"There have been signals coming out of the Clinton campaign that have racial overtones that indeed disturb me," Andrews said at his campaign headquarters in Cherry Hill Tuesday night after he lost his bid for the U.S. Senate nomination. "Frankly, I had a private conversation with a high-ranking person in the campaign ... that used a racial line of argument that I found very disconcerting. It was extremely disconcerting given the rank of this person. It was very disturbing."
Andrews said the phone call came after he angered the Clinton camp by making some positive comments about Obama. He would not disclose the caller's name because of the private nature of the conversation.
Clinton's campaign issued an angry response to Andrews, who once had the task of lobbying other members of Congress to support her.
"Comments like these, coming so soon after Congressman Andrews' crushing defeat, are sad and divisive," said Clinton's chief national spokesman, Phil Singer.
Andrews stood by his statements and said: "I would hope that all Democrats can put this divisiveness behind them. I'm glad the Clinton campaign is finally about to change its tone." He said he made his comments only after his primary loss to Sen. Frank Lautenberg because "I didn't want people to think I was trying to win over Obama supporters in the primary."
The Obama camp declined to comment.Andrews has joined other New Jersey Clinton delegates this week in saying he looks forward to uniting the delegation behind the presumptive nominee. During an interview on MSNBC yesterday morning, Gov. Jon Corzine, who was the leader of New Jersey's Clinton supporters, pivoted toward Obama, saying he "absolutely" will fight for the senator from Illinois.