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GOP Frontrunners Snub PBS/Smiley Debate at Morgan State

September 17, 2007

Last week, I detailed the continuing aversion of the Republican White House hopefuls to participate in debates sponsored by minority organizations. Now hot on the heels of their collective snub of the Univision and NAACP presidential forums, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are skipping a PBS event hosted by Tavis Smiley at the predominantly black Morgan State University.
Like the current Oval Office occupant, these Republicans apparently have no stomach for authentic, unscripted questions from the American people. But it may not be the questions as much as which Americans are asking them that explains the GOP evasion. As Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza put it, "It's not just that they are not coming. It's that some of them are visibly insulting us." A frustrated Smiley concluded:

"There is a pattern here. When you tell every black and brown request that you get throughout the primary process that 'no, there's a scheduling problem.' That's a pattern...Are we really supposed to believe that all four of these guys couldn't make it because of scheduling?"

The upset is not limited to voices of the left. African-American Republican leader Michael Steele, the head of GOPAC defeated in the 2006 Maryland Senate race, pleaded for the Republican frontunners to participate in Smiley's forum. Recognizing the GOP's dismal performance among black voters, Steele told WBAL last week:

"I think it's an important opportunity for Republican candidates to put up or shut up, when it comes to minority communities in the country."

Shutting up appears to be exactly what the GOP has in mind. While John Kerry carried only 53% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, by 2006 Democrats won 69% support among the nation's 43 million Hispanics who went to the polls. Meanwhile, Democrats continued to capture almost 90% of the African-American vote.
The Republicans' collapse among minority voters extends to evangelicals as well. "Right now, the nativist and xenophobic constituency is in charge of the Republican Party," says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the evangelical National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. "That's a party the Hispanic-American voter cannot support."
Which these days makes them no different from most any group of Americans.

3 comments on “GOP Frontrunners Snub PBS/Smiley Debate at Morgan State”

  1. I guess the candidates that care about us will be there. I know that I am not supporting anyone that is not.

  2. Some stereotypes apparently do ring true!
    It seems many Republicans only want to lead part of America, not ALL of America. They tend to believe one of the following:
    1. Courting the Black vote is a lost cause - they won't vote for us anyway
    2. Courting the Black vote is a lost cause - we don't need their vote to win anyway
    3. Black issues are unimportant issues


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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