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Morris W. O'Kelly Headshot

GOP Dissonance on Gov. Chris Christie Betrays Minority Outreach

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The players may change from cycle to cycle but the game and its essential elements do not. There is only one question to be answered as to 2016 in the consideration of any candidate.

Can he win?

No, not can he win the Republican nomination but can he win the general election? Anything less is an exercise in futility akin to celebrating the joys of kissing your sister. To put it another way, here in Los Angeles, Lakers fans don't celebrate winning the Pacific Division. The goal is the championship ring. We don't concern ourselves with the question of whether the team can win the division or even the conference.

The GOP should take a page from the Lakers' fanbook. In the consideration of candidates to vie for the White House in 2016, there should be only one question to consider.

"Can he win?" Simply winning the Republican nomination would be a short-sighted and wrong-headed strategy to employ.

No, I didn't say "she" and yes, I consciously omitted any such consideration. It would be harder for a woman to win the Republican nomination than to win the Oval Office. Let's not romanticize the issue and such a reality should give the party great concern.

Thank Sarah Palin in part for that. The anti-Hillary Clinton sentiment expressed by the party doesn't help either. Yes, I know... it's all Benghazi-related (wink, wink). That whole Senate report and embarrassing CBS sham of an exposé never happened (wink, wink). Aside from that, there will not be two women vying for the presidency at the same time. If Sec. Clinton runs, that further negates the possibility of a female Republican candidate at the top of the ticket.

But I digress...

The answer to the question of "can he win" is answered with respect to whether a candidate can carry or seriously compete for a demographic other than white men. If Mitt Romney's candidacy said anything about the future of American politics, it's that ethnic and gender coalition building are essential and inarguable. As President Clinton said, "it's mathematics."

And speaking of math...

In round numbers there are approximately 169 million registered voters, roughly 86 million are Democrat, 55 million are Republican. When put into these numerical terms, losing the fight for the emerging Latino vote could be the death knell for the GOP in a generational sense.  Presently, 51 percent of registered Latinos are Democrat, 18 percent are Republican. Quoting HispanicsinAmerica2012.com, "Every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18." The white male base of the Republican party is shrinking. The future Latino vote, be it in the form of amnesty or the children of immigrants coming of voting age, will have increasing impact in an exponential sense.

This is where the immigration reform debate is key. If President Obama is unable to pass immigration reform before leaving office, the Democrats will be unable to tout it in the run up to 2016. Conversely, Republicans will remind America that President Obama promised immigration reform in his bid for both election and reelection... yet didn't deliver in a bid to sway Latinos. The GOP wants immigration reform, believe you me; but needs to make sure it both gets the credit if completed during this administration or perceived as dedicated to making it happen in the next one if elected. Otherwise the statistical trend of Latinos voting primarily Democrat will worsen.

The math in this equation also then requires a candidate who at the minimum can pull from centrist Democrats, with all due respect of course to the Electoral College system. The math highlights the "reasons" behind the various Republican-spearheaded voter ID laws. The math doesn't lie.

Now, for the Gov. Chris Christie conundrum...

For many in the GOP, Christie and his broad bipartisan support are unattractive. Imagine that. Christie is supposedly too moderate, too friendly with the Democrats or a RINO (Republican In Name Only) altogether. For many in the party, the only acceptable way to win the Oval Office is without compromise and with strict adherence to the most stringent party ideals.  Yes, you want a Republican isn't attractive to Democrats, the dominant party in terms of numbers. Great strategy. That should work out well for you in the long run.

Back to my basketball analogy. You can maybe win a division title (i.e. Republican nomination, or congressional seats) without your best player. But you can't win a championship without him. I get it, Christie isn't Republican-sexy enough. But he's your best player.  We've been over the math and Ronald Reagan isn't walking through that door. And if he did you'd probably call him a RINO too for compromising with Tip O'Neill.

In other words, cling to the ideologue candidates at your own peril. One can't develop a consensus and build coalitions through self-marginalization. This is about winning an election, not a philosophy debate. An ideologue Republican can NOT win the White House.

It is mathematically impossible.

At the inception of BridgeGate, you could sense that some in the party were pleased that Gov. Christie had maybe been knocked down a peg, humbled and possibly made more vulnerable during the Republican primaries.

But here's the rub...

Gov. Chris Christie becoming more vulnerable in a primary sense in no way makes any such challenger more viable in a general election sense. Sen. Rand Paul doesn't somehow become more attractive to moderate, registered Democrat voters or Independents because Gov. Christie may falter. Christie once enjoyed a 78 percent approval rating and bipartisan support in New Jersey, a decidedly blue state, not Rand Paul. Gov. Christie "built that," to borrow a phrase from the 2012 election. It's not something that transfers over or can be bequeathed to another politician.

78 percent... in a BLUE state.  Say that out loud!

Gov. Christie getting caught up in "SandyReliefFundGate" and "HobokenGate" doesn't somehow elevate Sen. Ted Cruz among Brown voters. Cruz has made more enemies within his own party than friends and allies outside of it. Yes, I get it. Cruz was super-sexy in an ideologue Republican, sort of way while he twerked for 21 hours in front of America. It was the same "sexy" which drove more than 100,000 people to "like" the Phil Robertson for President Facebook page. It may be ideologue sexy, but it's a pipe dream in an election sense.

Ted Cruz can't win a general election. He is by definition, un-electable.

The government shutdown antics may have played well with his Texas constituents and far-right party loyalists, but it was anything but helpful with the aggregate electorate and burgeoning Latino block. It takes more than just a brown-sounding last name to move an ethnic voting block. This is still about math.

(Which brings me to another similarly-themed possible candidate... Dr. Ben Carson).

bencarson

Gov. Christie being attached to headlines replete with phrases like "bully tactics" and "payback politics" won't make Dr. Ben Carson more attractive to African-American voters as the next Great Black Hope. Despite the accusations of some, African Americans are the least race-impacted voting block in the election of political figures. Otherwise, Lynn Swann would have become governor of Pennsylvania, Ken Blackwell the governor of Ohio, Rev. Al Sharpton would have been taken seriously as a presidential candidate and Alan Keyes would have won one election in his life. Black voters have elected more white candidates than vice-versa.

Check the record.

African Americans have made it abundantly clear they can and will support Gov. Christie and are largely indifferent to Dr. Ben Carson outside of the O.R.

Despite the rhetoric of the GOP, we as African Americans don't largely vote based on color. The party has yet to figure this out, for whatever reasons. Not only that, Dr. Ben Carson (like a female candidate) has less chance of becoming the Republican nominee than winning the general election. Until the party can prove me wrong on that one, I'm right.

Gov. Christie is the best player on the Republican team, and the party is still reluctant to even put him in the game.

Not all of the Republican party is unclear on these truths. Even FOX News has dialed back the coverage of anything unflattering towards Gov. Christie. Although the news giant has been overtly critical of the governor even touching hands with President Obama in the past; it is beginning to accept the reality of the moment. Chris Christie is the party's best hope at re-taking the White House, regardless of whether Sec. Hillary Clinton runs and the party's ONLY hope if she in fact does run. The math is inarguable.

The GOP can either get serious about its minority outreach or just get on with the business of losing in 2016 and beyond. Minority outreach requires more than visits by Sen. Paul to Howard University and setting up minority outreach offices in Michigan. It requires more than hoping we don't notice the hypocrisy of accusing then-Senator Barack Obama of being "inexperienced" or alleging black people only voted for Barack Obama "because he's black"... yet also trotting out would-be candidates like Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson with ZERO political experience. Clearly the party hoped their black skin would resonate with mine because nothing else possibly could.

Minority outreach demands more than the hilarity of trotting out Sarah Palin (who possesses the intellectual sophistication of a brick) as the standard-bearer for women in the party. Clearly the party hoped women as a whole were equally unsophisticated and would vote for her/McCain purely on the strength of gender advancement. Winning the White House requires paying attention. Gov. Chris Christie has bipartisan and significant minority support in an important blue state and party leadership STILL won't get behind him.

Noted. I am clearly paying attention. Enjoy losing another presidential election. That's not inclusion, that's defiance to the point of self-mutilation. Who am I to stand in the way?

Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of "The Mo'Kelly Show" on KFI AM640. The Mo'Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Contact him at mo@themokellyshow.com and all commentary is welcome.