The GOP and Black Voters

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Republicans have long insisted that their party holds potential appeal for black voters. In 2005, then-GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman went before the NAACP to apologize for the party’s past exploitation of racial strife for political advantage, and asked African-Americans to “take another look at the party of Lincoln.” But that kind of outreach does not appear to be part of the Republican plan any more, as J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma Congressman and member of the House Republican leadership, notes in a blistering column.

Watts, the last African-American to serve as a Republican member of the House, takes particular aim at his party’s 2008 presidential field, noting that only Tom Tancredo spoke at last summer’s Urban League convention, and the entire top tier skipped a recent forum at historically black Morgan State University. And yet, Watts predicts:

Once in the general election, and safely out of the cloistered world of Republican primary politics, our nominee will want to trot out black faces — usually black Republicans — to try to win the black vote. This is insulting when you consider he likely didn’t show up at events that were established to reach out to the black community. Trust me, these candidates will pay a price in the general election.

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