On Thursday afternoon, Republican National Committee Reince Priebus met with a group of black Republicans in Atlanta, as part of what one participant called a "listening tour."
The Republican Party has to get into the black community. We have to be the party of Bankhead and Buckhead. We have to be on the campuses of the University of Florida and Florida A & M. And Republicans have to come up off some money to do all of that. Wallace Coopwood, the oldest black Republican in the room, put it very succinctly to Chairman Priebus. Talk is cheap, and the Republican National Committee needs to back up their talk with some cold hard cash.
RNC National Finance Chair Ray Washburne was in the room. Washburne is the guy who, along with Reince Priebus, has to convince Republican donors to give freely in support of African-American outreach. Priebus committed the Republican Party to black community outreach, and it is up to Washburne and Priebus to fund it.
I've e-mailed Walker asking how donor money would be used to fund minority outreach.
Update: 12:18 p.m. - Walker responded in an e-mail:
There are a variety of ways Republican donor dollars could be used to do outreach in the black community. Advertising on radio and television stations popular in the black community is one way. Paid staff at the Republican National Committee (RNC) dedicated to reaching out to HBCUs across the nation is another way. A bureau inside the RNC that identifies both paid and volunteer speakers, like black Republican business owner Sam Gude, who can go into the black community and communicate why Republican policies promoting low taxes, entrepreneurship and small business ownership are far better for blacks like me is another. And voter registration drives is yet another way.
Two popular perceptions of the GOP is that we are: A.) against poor people; and B.) for voter suppression. Contrary to those perceptions, Republicans want to get government out of the way so everybody --black, white, hispanic, asian-- can start their own businesses, make some money, then pass that business on to the next generation to build and grow. True freedom and true empowerment comes from owning your own business. And Republicans do want everyone to vote. 142 Congressional Republicans voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when it was first introduced. Republicans don't want to suppress anyone's votes. We simply want to make sure the vote is both safe and secure.
Chairman Priebus, at Thursday's meeting, conceded that minority outreach would not be cheap. It will take resources of all kinds for this to work. And it'll take a few election cycles before results are realized. But he committed to putting together a plan and sharing it with the two dozen or so black Republican activists in the room before implementing it. After all, the Republican Party did not lose the support of black voters overnight, and we won't earn back the votes of people who look like me overnight either.