Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
An NAACP notable, that is a local NAACP branch notable in Texas, praised GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul to the skies after the barrage of attacks on Paul for the racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic digs in his Ron Paul Survival Report newsletter. Herman Cain endorsed Paul rival Newt Gingrich. And despite the slap at Gingrich for racial pandering, Gingrich has never shirked from being in the company of African-American leaders including for a brief moment the Reverend Al Sharpton. His rival Rick Santorum has also gotten support from some black evangelicals including loopy Florida African-American minister O’Neal Dozier. Santorum stopped in at O’Neal’s Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, during the Florida primary and got a rousing nod from Dozier. Santorum even got the even more controversial, and far out Michael the Black Man (his self-description nee Maurice Woodside) to endorse him at a Coral Spring, Florida campaign rally.
The question and mystery is if the three most unabashed conservative of the four GOP presidential candidates scrounge up some African-Americans to co-sign their campaigns why can’t the fourth candidate, Mitt Romney find even one African-American to endorse him? South Carolina congressman Tim Scott, who declined to endorse anyone in the South Carolina primary didn’t endorse him. Florida congressman Allen West chose a Gingrich dinner to shout to “lefties” to get the hell out of America.
Romney’s goose egg in getting endorsements from black GOP officials, elected officials, any black Republican to endorse or even a few token black faces to stand behind him for stump photo-ops has been plainly apparent at his campaign rallies, stage appearance and events. They have been a staple in the background at GOP candidates and elected officials staged public functions. GOP presidential candidates for four decades have followed the lead of then GOP presidential candidate Richard Nixon in 1968 with his well orchestrated, and well-placed, photo-ops with assorted moderate black leaders, and even getting occasional endorsements from a black celebrity such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Wilt Chamberlain. Former President George W. Bush went much further and managed to blunt the hard criticism that a GOP White House is almost always a virtually an exclusive white, rich, male, clubby preserve with his arguably breakthrough appointments of Coin Powell, Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, and Alberto Gonzalez, Attorney General.
So then how to explain the Romney campaign’s solid whiteness. The issue of Romney’s blind spot on out-reach to African-Americans was glaringly apparent during his stint at Bain Capital. Not one of the dozens of Managing Directors at Bain was African-American. More than half of Bain’s directors had BAs or MBA degrees from Harvard.
That’s important to note for two reasons. Harvard had made a major effort over the years to ramp up the number of African-Americans and minorities in their business programs. So there was certainly no shortage of black candidates Bain and Romney could have recruited to the company and elevated to Managing Director. Even that failure might have passed under the radar scope, except that Romney boasted during his Massachusetts Senatorial bid in 1994 that public companies should be required to report how many women and minorities they had in order to “breakthrough” the glass ceiling.
Romney boasted even louder during his tenure as Massachusetts governor that he had a sterling record when it came to appointing minorities and women to state posts. But that came after Romney was pushed and prodded by civil rights and women’s groups for his near exclusive white male state house. Romney partly in response to the public pounding, and partly with an eye on a presidential run where he knew his state record on diversity would be closely scrutinized made a slew of appointments of minorities and women to the state bench in his last year in office.
Romney’s lily white retinue of aides, campaign staffers, advisors, and bankrollers, not to mention endorsers has been so noticeable that even black conservative and former Oklahoma GOP congressman J.C. Watts lambasted Romney for it. Watts challenged Romney for having a virtually lily white campaign staff. A nonplussed Romney shrugged it off and blithely said that he hires the best persons that he could find. Evidently that didn’t include Watts, and it wouldn’t. Watts has endorsed Gingrich.
The scorecard then reads like this: Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul, all have asked for and gotten endorsements and support from African-Americans. There is no record or evidence that the supposed more moderate Romney has asked for or gotten any black support or even taken a photo-op with some dutiful blacks. The question that will loom even larger as Romney closes in on the GOP nomination is. Where are Romney’s blacks?
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.
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