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President Obama Should Address Poverty at DNC, Says the Rev. Jesse Jackson

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he believes President Obama can regain some of his wayward 2008 voters if he takes on a big issue -- poverty in America.

“I’m convinced he must address poverty and violence in a different way,” said Jackson.

The civil rights leader, Baptist minister and former presidential candidate said there are 50 million Americans living in poverty today who cannot make ends meet and face malnutrition.

Jackson wants the president to focus more on poverty on the campaign trail.

“Why not revisit Lyndon Johnson’s steps when he kicked off the war on poverty in Appalachia?” asked Jackson, adding that doing so would put “a white face on poverty and de-racialize the debate.”

He could speak about a middle class that’s now poor, coal miners that have lung disease and miners dying from lack of workplace safety, Jackson said.

Speaking to the president’s past four years in office, Jackson said Obama brought the country back from the edge of a depression. And though “forward” is a fine slogan for the president’s re-election campaign, he offered an update, one that borrows from the reverend’s 1988 Democratic Convention speech, and plays off the “hope” and “change” catchwords of Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“Keep hope alive,” Jackson said with a smile.

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