One difference between the 2012 campaign and the 2008 campaign is that the racial issue is coming to the fore quite early, with each side accusing the other of playing the race card.
Vice President Joe Biden created a firestorm when he claimed that the Republican economic policies and relaxation of regulations were intended to put people "back in chains." This charge against the Republicans was an attempt to play the race card and the slavery card.
When the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, responded by calling the Democratic campaign dirty and saying "this is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like,", advising Obama to "take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago." MSNBC's Afro-American commentator Touré claimed that Romney twice used the word anger as a code word to identify blacks who were always portrayed as angry and menacing.
"This is part of the playbook against Obama, the 'otherization,' he's not like us," he continued. "I know it's a heavy thing, I don't say it lightly, but this is 'niggerization.' You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we've been trained to fear."
The commentator has since apologized for the use of the N-word as the conservative blogosphere came down heavily upon him. The Romney campaign has promised to take up the issue with NBC.
Today the New York Times (heavily engaged on Obama's behalf) published an op-ed entitled "Why Race is Still a Problem for Mormons". As Mitt Romney is a Mormon, the op-ed is intended to establish guilt by inference and insinuate that Romney is the one who still has a problem.
The Republicans do not intend to sit idly by and they have already announced that Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman from Alabama, who seconded the Obama nomination in 2008, will be a featured speaker at their Tampa convention this month. Davis has crossed the aisle to the Republicans and is part of the buyer's remorse campaign against Obama. Davis is black and has accused the Democrats of manipulating the race issue.
Liberals have denounced Davis as a celebrity turncoat and a sore loser, but in an article published in National Review, Davis claims that already back in 2008 Obama employed racial politics against Hillary Clinton, by insinuating that a victory for Obama was a victory against racism and meant the ultimate triumph of the civil rights movement. Such underhanded exploitation of the race issue, reminiscent of Richard Nixon, was continuing today:
"The Obama message, implicitly, is that the conditions on the ground, including in the black community, are small, grudging details when weighed against the epic fact that a black man occupies the Oval Office. It’s a point of view. But that argument is too charged, too at odds with Obama’s official de-emphasis on race, to be made out loud and in the light of day. Better to work through the hidden-hand approach, through surrogates who create plausible deniability and through commentators who can be disavowed."