RNC highlights strategy for building 'new generation of black Republicans'
February 4th, 2014
04:58 PM ET
8 months ago

RNC highlights strategy for building 'new generation of black Republicans'

Washington (CNN) - As the GOP aggressively tries to appeal to more black voters, the chairman of the Republican National Committee argued Tuesday that Republican candidates and elected officials "need to get out there" and "go to places they haven't been in far too long."

"Why? Because the first step is showing up," Reince Priebus said Tuesday at an awards ceremony for black Republicans at the famous Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Priebus acknowledged that Republicans had not been doing enough outreach in previous years.

"We have suffered as a national party for becoming a party that has shown up once every four years, about three months before an election," he said. "That is a losing strategy, and it has come to an end."

Following the GOP's 2012 presidential loss, when Republican nominee Mitt Romney only captured 6% of the African-American vote according to national exit polls, the RNC vowed to change its marketing strategy to minority voters.

As part of the RNC's post-election review, Priebus announced last March that the party committee would spend $10 million on new staff in mostly urban communities. RNC co-chair Sharon Day said Tuesday they now have staff in 11 states.

The chairman also highlighted last year's chartering of College Republicans at Morehouse College, a historically black college in Georgia, as a major milestone for the party and a big step towards building "a new generation of black Republicans."

RNC rolls out African-American outreach effort in Detroit

While Priebus touted the RNC's efforts in the past year to bolster black voter outreach, he argued they still have a ways to go.

"Guys, I want to make you proud of this party," he told the mostly black audience.

Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential contender, has made similar statements in the past about Republicans needing to go to more black communities. The Kentucky Republican spoke at Howard University and Simmons College last year, two historically black colleges in Washington and Louisville, respectively.

About 300 people attended the awards lunch Tuesday, including current and former lawmakers, as well as other political figures in the black Republican community.

Hilary Shelton, the Washington, D.C. bureau director of the NAACP, was also there, as well as a couple of Washington Redskins players and singer Toni Braxton's sister, Traci Braxton, according to the RNC.

The event Tuesday marked the RNC's second annual "Trailblazer" award ceremony to recognize black Republicans. This year's honorees were former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan; former Assistant Secretary of Labor William Brooks; and Judge Sara Harper, the first black woman to serve on the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve Judiciary and one of the first two women elected to the Ohio District Court of Appeals.

As part of its recognition of Black History Month, the RNC also bought radio and print ads for the first time ever to recognize prominent black Republicans.

Democrats, however, argue the RNC's efforts are hollow and may simply amount to another broken promise. They point to repeated pledges by the RNC in the past decade to make gains with voters in urban areas.

Kiara Pesante, director of African-American media at the Democratic National Committee, said Republicans will have a tough time on the policy level, citing the recent debate over a provision in the Voting Rights Act and the GOP push against Obamacare as two big issues that Republicans will struggle with among black voters.

"No matter how many offices they open, or how many people they hire, or how many special events they host, the Republicans simply can't explain away that harsh reality," she said.

RNC clarifies tweet that suggests racism is over

Actor Joseph Phillips, best known for his role on "The Cosby Show," co-hosted Tuesday's event at the Howard Theatre. He said the difference between previous outreach attempts and the RNC's current effort is a more organized plan to be on the ground year-round in certain communities.

"I think that's the key thing...This idea that some politician shows up at a convention and makes a speech–and somehow that qualifies as being engaged with the community and caring about the community? That's nonsense," he said, referring to previous GOP patterns. "What really counts are people in the community, actually working with real people who have real concerns and addressing those issues."

To combat criticism that the RNC's outreach efforts are disingenuous or simply political, Phillips said the GOP needs to continue pushing its core principles but also condemn hateful, racist language.

"None of this means anything unless this party distances itself from a small group of people who use this party and use conservative principles as cover for their idiotic ideas," he told CNN at the event, saying he wasn't talking about tea party conservatives, but "hateful, ugly people who claim and march under this (GOP) mantle."

"This party has got to distance themselves from them in order to really, really make headway with black voters," he argued. "That's the honest truth. Some people don't want to hear it, but that's the honest truth."


Filed under: Reince Priebus • RNC
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. freedom

    I think the black community is smart enough to see that it is a very small amount of people in the Republican party who one can call racist. And yes, racist language needs to be condemned by everyone, no matter which party it is. Conversely, the democrat party uses race as a ploy to manipulate. That is equally disturbing and wrong. The Republican party is visibly diverse not only in race, but gender. And people seem to dismiss that the first female black Secretary of State was Condoleeza Rice, appointed by George W. Bush. If we can get over the race issue, then the main goal is to communicate the Repbulican policies to all races in an articulate way, and display the positive impact it will have for each individual, and the country as a whole.

    February 4, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    ---first you guys need to stop crying on Healthcare. Whether you digest this hard core pill or not, ACA IS A LAW. Period. Stop whining like idiots, even third world is laughing at you.

    February 4, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    While Prince sucks up to Black voters, hoping they will ignore the actions of the house republicans and senate republicans, he forgets they are not as stupid as the RWNJ base.

    February 4, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Thomas

    The RNC has some big idea for doing nothing !

    February 4, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. don in albuquerque

    This is just too ridiculous to even comment on.

    February 4, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    The few black republicans I've seen and heard, mainly House members, sound like all the rest of the republican morons.

    i guess that's equality; all repubs are equally moronic, regardless of race.

    February 4, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    Really freedom, now you're speaking for us black people. You might have gotten away with that lie prior to 2008, but it's blatantly obvious since the election of Barack Obama that racism is alive and well in this country. Read the comments right here on this site. Better yet go pull up the comments about Trayvon. The nasty, dirty innuendos and comments directed at a dead child spoke volumes.

    What about the 2012 RNC? The way the workers were treated. The Tea Party rallies that are full of outright racism directed at the POTUS and their family. Prior to 2008 I might have voted republican, but now I wouldn't vote for a republican if my life depended on it. And there are many of us that feel that way. Don't try to use us when you need our votes. Contrary to what many think, we are a proud people and we are NOT fools.

    I'm sure this is another post for the trash heap but we'll see.

    February 4, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Makes me want to bust out that still picture from Willie Wonka with Gene Wilder leaning over with his chin on his hand looking ever so interested in what you have to say next. Do tell, GOPers/Teatrolls, do tell. Fantasy story time has officially begun.

    February 4, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. ChrisM

    What Reese's Pieces does not seem to realize is that it is the republicans POLICIES that the Majority of Americans DO NOT LIKE.

    February 4, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. Gop USa

    We dont need them....

    February 4, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Meanwhile, they're killing immigration reform and suppressing votes around the country.

    It takes all of two words to describe this outreach from the GOP/Teatrolls: LIP SERVICE.

    February 4, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I think that's the key thing...This idea that some politician shows up at a convention and makes a speech–and somehow that qualifies as being engaged with the community and caring about the community?"

    Well, yes, There is also the GOP platform. Not to mention the vitriol. And, well .... Herman Cain.

    February 4, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh. I almost forgot: 8 hour voting lines.

    February 4, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Ol' Yeller

    Well, if it they play it like they have the last two groups they have had a 'stratergy' (the way dubya used to say it) on – Hispanics and Women, I figger their first big move to attract blacks to the repulicant party will be a full court press to reinstate all the Jim Crow laws.
    Why are they trying to woo the African American vote? They have spent the last several years trying to keep them from the ballot box.
    Maybe they will let them vote, but just reinstate the the 3/5ths rule.
    These guys are wacky.

    February 4, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "To combat criticism that the RNC's outreach efforts are disingenuous or simply political, Phillips said the GOP needs to continue pushing its core principles but also condemn hateful, racist language."

    In other words: THINK IT BUT DON'T SAY IT.

    That'll work splendidly. Please proceed.

    February 4, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. rs

    These guys crack me up! With all of the idiocy, hypocracy and rank cynicism of the GOP, up jumps Priebus talking about a plan to create a whole "generation of Black Republicans".

    You couldn't write stuff this funny if you set out to- there simply isn't enough beer!

    February 4, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. freedom

    @Wake up

    Obama has fanned the flames of racism ever since he was inaugurated. Shameful, since he is the black president. He had the unique opportunity to heal the wounds and promote unity. But he chose to divide.

    February 4, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. rs

    freedom

    I think the black community is smart enough to see that it is a very small amount of people in the Republican party who one can call racist. And yes, racist language needs to be condemned by everyone, no matter which party it is. Conversely, the democrat party uses race as a ploy to manipulate. That is equally disturbing and wrong. The Republican party is visibly diverse not only in race, but gender. And people seem to dismiss that the first female black Secretary of State was Condoleeza Rice, appointed by George W. Bush. If we can get over the race issue, then the main goal is to communicate the Repbulican policies to all races in an articulate way, and display the positive impact it will have for each individual, and the country as a whole.
    _________________________
    I'll bite. Question: Given the GOP's other big plan- to disenfranchise Black voters all across the South by the hundreds of thousands, how does the GOP square it's anti-Black voter actions with creating a "generation" of Black voters?
    Or do we use really small numbers to define "generation"?

    February 4, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. don in albuquerque

    So, freedom, the way I take your post is, if we ignore it it will go away. And if you dare call anyone's hand on it, then you are the racist. Does this sound like sound reasonable to you? Your idea of diversity is very one way.

    February 4, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Mike from CO

    Step 1: Stop hating black people.
    Step 2: Stop saying racist things, and then calling the Democrats racist when they call you on your racist statements.
    Step 3: Stop trying to take away their right to vote, and stop marginalizing their vote.
    Step 4: Stop being Republicans.

    Fool-proof plan.

    February 4, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @freedom "The Republican party is visibly diverse not only in race,....."
    --------
    GOP polls show GOP 2% black, Tea Party 1% black. Freedom, you are a liar, or the intellectually challenged, darling voter of the conservative movement. They are the "morality" folks, remember?

    February 4, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  22. James Malenfant

    They are already showing their bigotry by referring to black republicans, as BLACk republicans. There is no such thing. Black people are not part of the America the Tpublicans want back. What a silly folly. Have a great day!

    February 4, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. smith

    Both parties are corrupt and don't care about the little people, they only care about their political donors. Dems and Repubs don't care about race unless that person has money. Today its all about money no matter what race you are.

    February 4, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. sammy750

    BEWARE BLACKS, Republicans have a new agenda to make you there slaves. Help you to get elected to pass there TERRORIST agendas. BEWARE BLACK PEOPLE. Never TRUST a Republicans.

    February 4, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. sammy750

    The RNC is so hurting to get votes and take over the nation, they are coming up with all kinds of crazy ideas. People BEWARE of the EVIL GOP, they have an agenda to destroy the people and even those that help get them elected.

    February 4, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
1 2