Home URBAN GOP Celebrates Over 10 Years of Failed Outreach to Communities of Color

GOP Celebrates Over 10 Years of Failed Outreach to Communities of Color

mike steeleStory By: Kiara Pesante, DNC Southern Regional Press Secretary and Director of African American Media

This week, the marked their -long failed outreach campaign to communities of color with the opening of an “African-American engagement office” and the announcement of new staff hires to support this effort. The claims – as they did in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and earlier this year – that this new engagement team will “build a grassroots infrastructure and engage with voters at community events.”

Haven’t we heard this story before? From their “50 State Strategy,” to their ‘autopsy report’ after their disastrous 2012 presidential campaign, the Republicans have promised time and time again to listen to the needs of key constituencies and change their ways. But, after their cynical, divisive crusade to make it harder for African Americans to vote in states like , to prevent the 7.1 million uninsured black Americans from accessing affordable health care, and even shutting down the government for 16 days – furloughing up to 150,000 African American workers and harming critical programs like , WIC, and Head Start – the GOP has yet again proven that are so far out of touch they can’t even see it.

No matter how many offices they open, or how many people they hire, the Republicans simply can’t explain away that harsh reality.

Tonight, as they celebrate more than 10 years of the same old lip service on their “outreach efforts” to , , and other -leaning voters, one must ask: what, exactly, are they doing differently from a decade ago? The answer is clear: absolutely nothing.

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2003:  Marc Racicot:  “Expanding Our Base By Recruiting New Republican Activists From Traditionally Strong And Democratic Constituencies Is Our Number One Priority.”  “Republicans must attract more minority candidates and voters into their ranks even though that process will take time and lots of work, the GOP’s national chairman says. Marc Racicot told members of the Republican National Committee on Friday that the minority outreach is crucial for the party’s future, adding ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ ‘Expanding our base by recruiting new Republican activists from traditionally strong and Democratic constituencies is our number one priority,’ Racicot said after he was re-elected as chairman without opposition.”  [AP, 2/1/03]

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2005:  Ken Mehlman Launched “Conversations With The Community” A National Tour Of Meetings With African Americans.  “Ken Mehlman, chairman of the RNC, embarked on ‘Conversations with the Community,’ a national tour of meetings with black Americans. He also announced the formation of an RNC African-American Advisory Committee. ‘If you give us a chance, we’ll give you a choice,’ has become his standard line to black audiences.”  [Baltimore Sun, 4/24/05]

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2005:  The RNC Launched An Outreach Program For Urban And Minority Voters.  “Republican leaders on Thursday used Pittsburgh — a city controlled by Democratic elected officials for seven decades — as an example of where the GOP hopes to expand its membership with minorities and inner-city voters who traditionally align more with Democrats.  ‘We believe there are many people that populate these urban cities that are Republican-leaning,’ said Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Jo Ann Davidson. ‘We’re not giving up on the urban centers.’   [… ] A strategy session yesterday included a panel discussion about ways the GOP can attract more blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other groups. Many of the 280 conference participants from all 50 states attended the discussion. The meeting was closed to the press.”  [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 8/5/05]

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mel-martinez-resigns2007:  Mel Martinez As RNC General Chairman: “I Want To Make Sure That We Take That Message To The  Broader Hispanic Community, To The African-American Community And To All The Communities That May Never Have Believed That Republican Ideals Spoke To Them.”  “Sen. Mel Martinez pressed his partyFriday to open its doors wider to minorities and used his bootstrap biography to try to recast the bitter debate within the GOP over immigration. Martinez was elected general chairman of the Republican National Committee — the first Hispanic to hold that position — after a week of sniping from some border-state conservatives. They object to Martinez’s support for legislation that would give some illegal immigrants a path toward legal status. But when it came time for the 168 delegates to vote by voice, only a handful opposed Martinez, who was chosen for the job by President Bush. Martinez’s road to becoming a U.S. senator and now the head of his party began with his flight from communist Cuba. Martinez said his success was a result of help from Florida families and his own hard work — not government programs. He said Republican values, and having a Hispanic in the leadership job, can attract minorities.  ‘I want to make sure that we take that message to the broader Hispanic community, to the African-American community and to all communities that may never have believed that Republican ideals spoke to them,’ Martinez told RNC members. ‘So they, too, understand that if they care about education for their children, accountability in their schools, if they care about entrepreneurship, about beginning a small business and growing it into a large business, if they care about a party that stands for less government but more individual freedom, then we are the party for them and their American dream.’” [Orlando Sentinel, 1/20/07]
 

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2008:  Mike Duncan Unveiled A Website To Fight The Perception That The Republican Party Is “A Party Of Old White Guys.”  “A week after the election, and five days after Rebuild the Party was introduced, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan unveiledRepublicanForAReason.com, which he describes as ‘a grassroots site that Republicans can use to tell us what they think of the party.’ He says the party has lost the trust of its members and the site ‘is a big part of understanding and communicating with them.’ He agrees with Finn that the GOP is viewed ‘as a party of old white guys.’  ‘And I’m saying that as a 57-year-old white guy.’ He quickly adds: ‘But I use technology. I’ve got three BlackBerrys. I’ve got a Kindle.’ He promises that the RNC’s Internet division — headed by Cyrus Krohn, formerly of Microsoft and Yahoo — will get more resources, calling it ‘a big priority for the RNC.’” [Washington Post, 11/25/08]

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2010:  Michael Steele:  “No Matter How Blue Or Purple We Must Compete For Every Seat.”  “RNC Chairman Michael Steele unveiled a new Republican Party program today aimed at taking advantage of a political environment that is currently tilting heavily in the GOP’s direction. ‘Throw out the old maps, folks.  We need you — the American people need you to create a new one,’ said the guaybera-clad Steele as he addressed members of the RNC at the party’s winter meeting here in Honolulu, HI.  Steele urged the party faithful that Republicans must adjust their thinking and prepare to compete everywhere from Delaware to Hawaii (the first state to the 50th state) or D2H as the program is called.  ‘No matter how blue or purple, we must compete for every seat,’ Steele added.” [ABC News, 1/29/10]
 

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In 2010, The RNC Launched A “50 State Strategy” With 358 Paid Staffers In 45 States.  “Steele:  In other words, beginning in January of this year, and literally probably going back to last December, we strategically looked at the country, and I remember talking with — with the staff, and particularly Gentry, about a 50-state strategy, a strategy in which we could be competitive in every corner of — of — of the United States. And Gentry went back and said, yeah, it can be done, and this is how we do it. And so we invested early in our victory centers. You all know that the typical course for the RNC has been to wait to August, and in some cases September. I remember that as a state party chairman back in 2000, not even seeing — seeing the only one victory center that we saw come online sometime around mid-September 2000 for — for our elections that year. We started investing in our victory centers in January. And as a consequence, we were able to build out over 360 victory offices across 45 states that were run by 358 paid victory staffers, which compared to only 154 victory offices in 2008 and 140 in 2006.”  [Michael Steele Teleconference on the Election Results, 11/3/10]

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