Saturday, September 29, 2007

Republicans, Romney and Race

Sure to be one of the questions at the big debate October 9th (Fred's actually going to show up this time) is the question of why none of the top tier GOP candidates have attended same of the "ethnic" debates that have been held thus far, such as the Gay debate on Logo, the Latino debate on Univision, or the African-American debate hosted by Tavis Smiley (could that really be anyone's name?).

Of course, all of the candidates have cited scheduling conflicts. There have been varying opinions on this issue. Joy Behardt of ABC's "The View" questioned whether the Republican canidates were busy attended a "Klan rally". Newt Gingrich thought it was a mistake on the part of the candidates not to attend, and Star Parker defended their decision thusly:

So it's no surprise that all the Democrats showed up for Smiley's PBS debate for them a few months ago at Howard University. Ninety percent of the black vote is Democratic, so this is a key base for the party.

Of course, they have to show up and pitch this crowd. Particularly this year, when one of the two leading Democratic candidates is black.

But why, when barely one in 10 Republican voters is black, would it be a good use of candidates' time, when they are battling each other for their party's nomination, to court blacks? The time for reaching across the divide is during the general election, not in the primary struggle.

Surely Smiley understands this basic reality that he is distorting into something else.

On top of this, he's got an event that is transparently set up for Republican failure. The host, Smiley, is a liberal, the sponsoring venue, PBS, is liberal, and the journalists selected to do the questioning -- Cynthia Tucker, Juan Williams and Ray Suarez -- range across the spectrum from left to center. There's not a conservative to be found.

Still, JC Watts has a good point as well when he mentions:

It's time my party's leadership considers why 50 percent or more of black Americans support Republican ideas like parental choice in education, are pro-life, pro-marriage, support faith-based organizations getting a piece of the government social services pie, are pro-homeownership and pro-business ownership, yet only 8 to 10 percent of this demographic votes Republican.

If my party could attract even 20 percent of the black vote rather than the 8 to 10 percent we do today, the Democrats would never win another national election.

So what does Governor Romney think of the Tavis Smiley debate? CBN had a chance to ask him just that, here was his response, and follow up question:

Romney: Every month we get invited to do about 10-12 debates, and you can do about one a month because you've got to raise the money, and you've got to do the grassroots work and getting on in the early primary states, and so you can't do all the events that you get invited to. And so you have to decide okay, what's the debate going to be this month, and we've got a debate and we had one in September. We've got one or two now in October. We're gonna have debates right on through, and I'm happy to debate.

I don't really care about the setting we go to. I'm happy to go anywhere we possibly can, and certainly we want to attract African American and Hispanic voters, and I think the Democratic party has done a wonderful job with the mainstream media convincing them that because we didn't do that debate, that means we don't care about minority voters.

Well that's ridiculous. Of course we care about minority voters. We're not entirely brain dead. We want people in the entire country to vote for us -- Hispanic voters, African-American voters -- we all want them in the primary and in the general. So this is not a signal that somehow we don't care. It's the same message we've given to ABC, NBC and CBS and all the other people that have asked us to do more debates than we can do, and that is that when you do a debate. You call for one in the last couple of weeks in September, which is the last part of the quarter, most of us have got things lined up.

Brody: But there's a sensitivity with the African-American community with this. Would you concede that? Obviously there's a downside here to not even to show up because it sets you and others up for this criticism?

Romney: Well it's not going to be the last opportunity we have to debate with the African-American community.

This is a pretty good answer, and 100% accurate. But, in my opinion the question is wrong.

If I were a candidate (and I'm not!) I'd answer the question about attended the various minority targeted debates this way:

In general I think too much gets made of courting the black vote, the hispanic vote, the irish vote, the faith vote, the gay vote, the polish vote or what have you.

We are all Americans. If America is protected and safe, if America has a strong economy, and if America supports family values- those are things that affect every American.

The Democrats have already had debates on the Spanish channel and the Gay network, and a debate targeting African-Americans. I guess it's only a matter of time before they go on Court TV after the "Lawyer vote", or Sci-Fi Network after the "Geek vote". Categorizing people based on their race or other criteria only serves to divide and balkanize the country.

It seems inherently racist to suggest that the only way to reach out to Latinos is on Univision. As if no Latinos watch CNN or FOXNEWS for that matter. As if they are one issue voters, and wouldn't care about the type of things we are talking about at tonight's debate, things like the economy, defeating the jihadists, creating strong families or improving education.

We hear a lot today about celebrating diversity and that's great. But, let us not forget to also celebrate the things they have in common, the common values that all Americans share help to build relationships of trust - so that the country can be united as one. We are all Americans. When we act as one nation of Americans regardless of race our national defense is stronger, our economy is stronger, our families are stronger and America's future is brighter and her best days ahead of her.

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