Party of Lincoln not whiter than white when it comes to diversity
“We have to educate them,” he says, likening the quest to Ronald Reagan winning over blue-collar workers.
Herman Cain, the former candidate for the Republican nomination, who is African-American, has shifted his focus from his “9-9-9” tax plan to a new strategy to bring “ABCs” (American black conservatives) into the Republican party. When I asked Cain how the party could attract ethnic minorities, he laughed in his booming baritone: “They’ve got me.”
Speakers such as Mia Love, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and the black former Democratic congressman Artur Davis received particularly warm ovations at the convention.
Davis graduated from Harvard Law School two years after Obama and was labelled “the Obama of Alabama” by Fox News. But Davis’s hopes of following in the president’s footsteps were shattered when he stood for governor of Alabama. He had tried to win over white voters by opposing Obama’s healthcare Bill in Congress. But he alienated African-Americans and lost badly.
Davis now portrays his misadventure as an ideological rejection of a president who drifted too far to the left.
Through him, Republicans are targeting not only black voters – a hard sell at best – but the broader base of disaffected Obama supporters. “The last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place,” David told the Republicans, alluding to his having seconded Obama’s nomination four years ago.
As a recent convert to the party he is now “where I belong . . . I gather you have room for the estimated six million of us who know we got in wrong in 2008.”
Democrats and Republicans are slinging accusations of race-baiting at each other. Republicans pounced on the vice-president, Joe Biden, for telling a mainly African-American audience that Republicans “want to put y’all back in chains”, while Democrats say strict new voter identification laws in a number of Republican-ruled states are meant to disenfranchise blacks and Hispanics.
In speeches and adverts, the Romney campaign claims Obama gutted Clinton-era work requirements for welfare recipients. Fact-checkers say it’s untrue, but the allegations continue. In the minds of many conservatives, “welfare” signifies African-Americans.
And Romney’s recent joke, while campaigning in Michigan, that “no one ever asked to see my birth certificate” was a wink to racist birther conspiracy theorists who claim Obama was not born in the US.