by Raynard Jackson
Now that Mitt Romney is the de facto nominee for the Republican Party, I have been reflecting on the state of the presidential race as it enters the final stretch. As a political strategist, I understand the necessity to run to the right during the Republican primary and then migrate to the center during the general election.
It is common knowledge that Romney has no intention of focusing on the black vote during the general election. From a raw political perspective, I agree with his approach, but from a strategic perspective, I totally disagree.
There is absolutely no question that President Barack Obama will get in excess of 90 percent of the black vote (in 2008 he received 96 percent). But this time he will receive 90 percent-plus of a smaller number of blacks; there will be fewer numbers of blacks voting because they are disillusioned with him. The first Obama run made history, his governing is a mystery when it comes to blacks.
Obama's recent endorsement of homosexual marriage and support for amnesty for illegals has infuriated the black community. The NAACP, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, etc. have not represented the views of the average black for decades. The NAACP will continue to hemorrhage support from within the black community. Many blacks are publicly withdrawing their memberships and support from this group.
Under-skilled blacks are livid that Obama wants to legalize more than 1 million new people into the workforce to compete with them for jobs. It's hard enough competing with Americans for jobs, now you have to compete with those in the country illegally? Who in their right minds feeds the neighborhood while their own children are starving? Nobody, but Obama.
These issues give Romney an opportunity, by engaging with the black community, to reach out to white, suburban, middle-class women voters to let them know that the Republican Party is OK to support. In other words, these are the Independent voters who will determine the outcome of the election.
These voters want to support a candidate and party that are not "perceived" as racist or mean-spirited. So, by reaching out to blacks, they are signaling to these Independent voters that it is OK to vote Republican.
These voters don't support homosexual marriage or amnesty for illegals, but they don't want to see or hear harsh rhetoric, either.
Romney, are you aware that Obama has never met with any black entrepreneurs to discuss the high unemployment rate within the black community? When will you meet with black entrepreneurs to listen to them, not to preach to them?
Romney, when will you sit with black ministers who are with you in your opposition to homosexual marriage and under-skilled blacks who will be hurt by giving work permits to illegals?
Why are you going to address the NAACP and the National Urban League at their respective annual conventions this summer without obtaining concessions from them? Do you have any blacks on your campaign or consultants who can negotiate concessions on behalf of your campaign? For example, if these groups want you to speak before their membership, then they must have black Republicans as speakers and panelists or you won't agree to speak.
Because Republicans typically have no diversity on their staffs, they don't know to extract these types of concessions, nor can they afford to send a white staffer to do this. Republicans are the only people I know who will send a white male to speak to a group of women about women's issues!
Romney, when you go before these black groups, will you also have a white speechwriter to draft your remarks? Anyone can write a great speech, but do they understand the nuances when talking with the black community?
This is why Republicans typically receive tepid responses when speaking before a black audience. Meanings are in people, not in words.
So, what I am saying to you, Romney, is that by engaging with the black community, you are simultaneously engaging Independent voters. You get a twofer out of this approach and you, being the businessman that you are, should see the potential for a nice return.
I would welcome your thoughts on this approach as a first step towards substantive engagement with the black community.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. His website is: www.raynardjackson.com.)