Yesterday, we linked to a story in the University of Alabama college newspaper, the Crimson White, which quoted several campus political leaders adjusting to and accepting the fact that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has locked down the Republican presidential nomination.
Specifically, we pointed to a section of the story that quoted Jones, the outgoing president of the University of Alabama College Democrats (the story actually referred to him as the outgoing chairman—one of several discrepancies he raises below). Jones said he won’t be voting to re-elect President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Cody Jones, the outgoing chairman of the UA Democrats, believes Obama does not stand much of a chance in Alabama. Jones will not even be voting for him due to what Jones perceives as a lack of support the White House has for the state party [emphasis mine].
“Although, I can’t bring myself to vote for him, I can bring myself to send him some great people from the state of Alabama both in Congress and in state and local governments,” Jones said. He will also be writing in a Democrat for president, possibly Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
According to Jones, the story got his position wrong—while he won’t be supporting Obama in November, Jones says it’s not due to a perceived shunning of the Alabama Democratic Party (updated: read a response from Crimson White reporter Rich Robinson below). Jones told Weld that he is focused primarily on state-level issues, and that he can’t vote for Obama due to Obama’s advocacy of charter schools—a flaming hot issue in Alabama at this very moment.
Jones asked if he could explain his position, and we’re happy to let him respond. His response, in full, is below. Rich Robinson, the Crimson White reporter who authored the original story, has responded below. I think Robinson’s response shows that his conclusion — that Jones was not voting for Obama due to a perceived lack of support for the state party — is a perfectly reasonable one.
Without further adieu, Mr. Jones:
First, I would like to simply explain. I think a lot of the Crimson White, and of the student-journalist who interviewed me. I have worked with both on a variety of opinion pieces. The thing that is important to remember is that the reporter is a ‘student’ and that the Crimson White is a ‘student paper.’ I do not expect reporting to be on par with the New York Times. I was contacted at five in the afternoon to give my opinion on the Romney-Obama election. I was informed that the reporter had a deadline to make and I believe that deadline had much to do with my comments being taken out-of-context.
For example, my title within the organization was the outgoing president of the UA College Democrats. The lack of detail in getting even my office and the office of my successor seems evident that there was some lazy writing in the original CW article.
I am a Democrat, and I am one that focuses on issues primarily of a state and local nature. I simply have little interest in federal issues, my fellow Democrats do a good job giving them the attention they deserve, thus I am committed to giving attention to our often neglected state and local problems.
I do not think Barack Obama, nor the White House is “unsupportive of the state party.” What I suggested was that a main focus of Alabama legislators is resisting ALGOP leadership efforts to deconstruct the public education system through charter schools. President Obama himself is an advocate of charter schools, and their inclusion is a major aspect of a state receiving any Race To The Top (Obama’s signature education policy) funding.
Because I consider myself an advocate of education needs in Alabama and an opponent of charter school legislation first and foremost I cannot bring myself to support any candidate that supports charter schools, even if that includes my party’s nominee for President.
I am a Yellow Dog Democrat. I will support only Democratic candidates, and I will substitute any Democrat I cannot support with a write-in Democrat that I can support (I will also not be voting for Harry Lyon, for example).
These issue-oriented details of my opinion did not make it to any article and I apologize for any perception that may have implied President Obama does not support the ADP or vice-versa, that was not the context of my comment.
I will not work for the defeat nor election of President Obama, but I am instead focusing my support to races that are closer to home for me. As a political observer I expect President Obama to win election, and the prospect of four more years under Obama is something I can live with. I simply hope that in 2016, the Democratic nominee will share my views on charter schools.
-Cody G. Jones
Thanks for the clarification, Mr. Jones.
UPDATED: While Mr. Jones says his comments were taken out of context by the Crimson White, the reporter himself says otherwise. Rich Robinson tells Weld he recorded his conversation with Jones (with permission). Robinson says Jones did not mention charter schools. He offered up three direct quotes by Jones (emphasis mine):
“I’ve actually got a bit of an outstanding beef with the White House and in particular the Department of Justice and how they handled like the bingo trial and things like that.”
“It’s more; I don’t believe the White House has been very pertinent on helping the Alabama Democratic party. Really that’s just the basis of it all.”
“I’ve thought about writing in Leon Panetta, the current Secretary of Defense just over him handling the whole bin Laden operation.”
With those quotes, it’s not hard to see how a reporter might conclude that Jones might not support Obama “due to what Jones perceives as a lack of support the White House has for the state party.”