Saturday, February 13, 2016

What They Didn't Debate

Urban issues such as poverty and crime got no attention in Wednesday night's presidential debate.

What They Didn't Debate


A couple areas in Wednesday night’s presidential debate of import to cities such as Philadelphia were completely overlooked.

I understand the debate focus was the general economy, but lost in the flurry of economic numbers was any mention of urban issues.

No real reference to urban poverty. Philadelphia is one of the poorest cities in America with a poverty rate of 26.7 percent, according to U.S. Census figures.

No real reference to gun violence. Philadelphia, among the nation’s 10 largest cities, has the highest homicide rate (the result of gun violence), according to FBI statistics.

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I suppose the politics behind this is obvious: the Obama camp feels it need do nothing to win urban America; the Romney camp knows it can do nothing to win urban America.

This plays to a point often noted by Republicans disgusted with crime and poverty in big cities and Republicans interested in making political inroads in cities.

That point is this: the poor and most urbanites repeatedly, consistently vote Democratic and yet the problems of the poor and many urbanites always remain the same.

I suppose the Democratic argument is both poverty and crime would be far worse under GOP governance since, presumably, social programs aimed at combating the former in hopes of reducing the latter would be eviscerated if Republicans run the show.

Still. Be nice to hear such arguments played out as part of a presidential debate. But then people and the public good would be served -- rather than the politics of the moment, and the reach by both candidates to capture middle-class independent undecided voters.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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