Saturday, March 3, 2012

Blacks typically don’t vote GOP, but certain remarks from Republican candidates will keep them at bay

            Super Tuesday is upon us now, and the contenders vying for the Republican Party presidential nomination are hell-bent on booting President Barack Obama and the First Family from the White House by any means necessary. Their rhetoric is simply fodder for op-eds and news reports.
The race has been swift, dirty and almost unforgiving at times. And millions of dollars have been spent thus far. But when three of the contenders -- Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum -- are caught mincing words, or “misspeaking,” on the campaign trail, it does little, in my opinion, to attract voters outside the GOP base.
“I like being able to fire people,” Romney said a few weeks ago. He was castigated for the remarks and other controversial statements as well -- and deservingly so. In front of certain crowds he’s trying to appease, he’s done nothing more than to stir the ire of non-supporters.
Here’s what Gingrich said about poverty: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash,' unless it's illegal.”
These and other gaffes and incendiary remarks cannot be ignored as media sound bites are replayed over and over and used against each other and by the opposing party. If Romney, for example, is hoping to win the black vote – which I doubt that’s an objective other than trying to secure the Republican base -- he might as well forget it. There are only a handful of black Republicans anyway.
Gingrich might as well forget the black vote as well, particularly after slamming Obama time and time again as “the best food stamp president in history.” That statement doesn’t bode well with African Americans and others who see the allocation of food stamps as a hand up, not a hand out. Of course, there are recipients, black and white, who will continue to choose food stamps over an honest day’s work.  
It also didn’t help “Mr. Money Bags” when he told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that he is “not concerned with the very poor.” Whether that statement was taken out of context or not, it doesn’t matter. Poor people, I’m sure, took umbrage no matter what Romney’s intentions were.
Think about it, Romney, 15.1 percent of the U.S. population was listed as poor in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In terms of race, African Americans comprise 13 percent of the total U.S. population, but 27.4 percent of them were listed as poor, compared to 26.6 percent of Hispanics, 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites, and 12.1 percent of Asians. He mucked that one up pretty bad.
According to, Romney makes $59,000 every 24 hours and is said to be worth $200 million. Therefore, he wouldn’t understand the plight of the nation’s poor, black or white, and those who are grappling with serious unemployment.
“I’m also unemployed,” the former Massachusetts governor told a group of unemployed workers at a campaign stop in Florida. What was he thinking? The audience may have warmed up to Romney’s remarks, but I’m certain the rest of us didn’t get it. Was it a joke? I didn’t get the punch line.
Although both Romney and Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, hope to win the Republican nomination to take on Obama and the Democrats in the general election on Nov. 6, 2012, they’d better wise up and take seriously the voters who don’t typically vote Republican.
But now they have Rick Santorum to deal with. The former Pennsylvania senator is surging and Gingrich has fallen way behind. He and Romney are now considered the frontrunners. But then in Santorum’s zeal to win the Republican nomination, the self-described conservative has said some stupid things on the stump earlier in the race.
Taking a dig at the President’s health care reform, Santorum told a group of reporters in Iowa, in April 2011, that his daughter, who was born with a genetic abnormality, would not survive in a country where “socialized medicine” is the norm.
“I look at how society with socialized medicine treats children like Bella, and children like Bella don’t survive,” he told The Des Moines Register. “Children like Bella are not given the treatment that other children are given.”
The fact is the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions and disabilities.
And check this one out: During an interview in January 2011 on Christian television, Santorum explained to CNS News editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey that he found it almost remarkable for a black man to not know when life begins – “to say now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.”
The senator, who is pro-life, hammered away at Obama, who is pro-choice. But Santorum’s comments seemed to suggest, according to writer Igor Volsky of at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, that since Obama is black, he should know that a fetus is a person since black people weren’t considered a full human being when they were enslaved.
The audacity of such statements will continue to inflame the electorate on the opposite side of the GOP. I’m sure that after Super Tuesday and down the homestretch to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., someone will emerge the nominee.
Whoever he is -- Romney, Gingrich or Santorum – he’d better watch the sordid language that spills from his mouth. African Americans will be watching and waiting for the nominee who’ll try to deny President Obama a second term by any means necessary.   

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