WASHINGTON — Few presidential candidates in modern times have been identified with a large urban area likeBarack Obama is with Chicago. And sometimes, that can present a problem.
This election season, for instance, the residents of Obama’s hometown are being murdered at a clip not seen in five years.
Murders have risen 18 percent over a year ago. Assaults in the city involving guns are also rising. City officials, Police Supt. Jody Weis and the police force are increasingly coming under criticism.
But some Republicans say part of the blame also lies with Obama.
They argue that while serving Illinois as its junior senator and earlier, when the Democratic candidate for president was a state lawmaker, Obama didn’t do enough to make violent crime a priority. Specifically, they point to Obama’s votes over gun legislation and the death penalty.
“Whether it was voting against or voting present on issues related to stricter penalties on offenders of serious crimes or disallowing citizens to exercise their right to self-defense, Obama demonstrated poor judgment on an important issue to his constituents,” said Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
But Obama’s campaign says the link between Obama’s votes and violent crime is specious, and that Obama has actually done more to effectively combat urban violence than his Republican opponent, John McCain, who it says has consistently resisted federal efforts to place more police officers on the streets and voted against banning vest-piercing, or so-called cop-killer, bullets.
“John McCain voted to keep cop-killer bullets on the street and opposed the bipartisan crime bills of the early ’90s that led to the hiring of thousands of police officers and helped communities stay safe—a record that he will have to explain,” said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.