A lot of the Republicans talked about having “great diversity on display” at the Republican National Convention. The governor of New Mexico and Sen. Marco Rubio spoke during the Republican National Convention, but what’s interesting is the polling data amongst minorities, 65-31 in terms of Latinos supporting Pres. Obama over Mitt Romney. NBC News-Washington Journal poll: 94 percent Pres. Obama, 0 percent for Mitt Romney in terms of African Americans with a 3-point — 3½ percent margin of error.
What does it say about the Republican Party that was so aggressive at touting diversity onstage, but it’s not reflected in the voting booth?
This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features Republican strategist Elroy Sailor, founder and CEO of J.C. Watts Company; Angela Rye, executive director and general counsel of the Congressional Black Caucus; theGrio.com contributor Joseph Williams and Georgetown University professor Dr. Chris Metzler.
MR. MARTIN: And there’ll be a lot to watch in the coming months as Americans face a real choice on the direction of our country.
One side of that choice was on display at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where I spent the last week. So, let’s get right to it with our “Washington Watch” roundtable. Joining me is Republican strategist Elroy Sailor, founder and CEO of J.C. Watts Company, looking snazzy there with the pocket square –
MR. MARTIN: — of course, Angela Rye, executive director and general counsel of the Congressional Black Caucus – glad to have you back, Angela; political journalist and griot.com contributor Joseph Williams – finally he got a pocket square right –
MR. MARTIN: — and Georgetown University professor Dr. Chris Metzler. And Chris has stepped up his clothing game –
DR. CHRIS METZLER: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — after we had an intervention in season three.
DR. METZLER: I told you!
MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS: Yeah.
DR. METZLER: I told you!
MR. MARTIN: All right. Nice teal.
All right, folks. Welcome –
MR. MARTIN: — welcome to the show. Let’s get right to it.
It was quite interesting to see the various voices. I want to get to the first thing – this notion of diversity. A lot of the Republicans talked about they had “great diversity on display.” You know, you had the governor of New Mexico. You had Sen. Marco* Rubio. But what’s interesting is when you look at the polling data, 65-31 in terms of Latinos supporting Pres. Obama over Mitt Romney. NBC News-Washington Journal poll: 94 percent Pres. Obama, 0 percent for Mitt Romney – although you talk about [a] 3-point – 3½ percent margin of error.
What does it say that the Republican Party was so aggressive at touting diversity onstage, but it’s not reflect[ed] in the voting booth?
MR. WILLIAMS: It’s hollow. It’s hollow. I mean there’s no doubt about it. To get to 0 percent of African-American support after you have George Bush racking up almost a record total for modern-day Republicans, you have Republicans all the way back to Nixon, even beyond, voting – you know, have African-Americans voting GOP at close to 5, 7 percent – to get to 0, you almost have to be trying.
MR. MARTIN: Now, now – now, let’s be honest. There are going to be Black folks who’re going to vote for Mitt Romney. Okay?
OFF CAMERA: Absolutely!
MR. MARTIN: So, the reality is in – what – in the last election, Sen. John McCain – he got 4 percent. So, tha- — that’s the whole issue of how many people you sample in a poll, but it still says something, though.
MR. WILLIAMS: It’s a representative sample, and even in – you know, even if you make those arguments that McCain and Bush got percentages of the African-American vote, certainly at this point in the election cycle, every last one of them had at least a blip among African-American –
MR. MARTIN: Gotcha.
MR. WILLIAMS: — voters. So, that’s the distinction. Zero percent – you’re absolutely right – is not a hard-and-fast number. It’s not going to hold up on Election Day, but certainly this close to Election Day, without any other extraneous factors ro- — factoring in, you have 0 percent? That’s almost like –
MR. MARTIN: Now –
MR. WILLIAMS: — you’re trying.
MR. MARTIN: — now, we totally understand, obviously, Pres. Obama – first African-American president; but when you take a look for African-Americans and Latinos – that, to me – that’s a troubling issue for the GOP – especially Latinos, because you need them for those western states.
MR. ELROY SAILOR: Well –
MS. ANGELA RYE: Well, let –
MR. SAILOR: — well, Roland, this is not a new issue. I mean the Republican Party, since 1936, you know, has had a challenge with minority voters. You know, the problem w- — in the Republican Party – it’s not as if – we believe we’re right on the policies. Our challenge is we don’t know how to talk about them. So, when we talk –
MR. MARTIN: Or even –
MR. SAILOR: — about, well –
MR. MARTIN: — talk to.
MR. SAILOR: — well, I would just – I’d say we don’t know how to talk about those issues. When we talk about welfare reform, we don’t talk about welfare reform in the sense that we say, “Well, we want to measure compassion by how many people are working” –
OFF CAMERA: Right.
MR. SAILOR: — “not how many people are on welfare.” We talk about welfare reform – and – and as we all know, the majority of people on welfare are not African-American –
MR. MARTIN: Yeah, they’re White.
MR. SAILOR: — but we talk about it as if it’s a – a – if it’s a Black issue.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well –
MR. SAILOR: Secondly, we –
MR. WILLIAMS: — because there’s overrepresentation on the rolls and because there’s a high degree of unemployment in African-American communities. Therefore, more Black people depend on aid as a proportion of the population.
MR. MARTIN: Now, speaking of that, Rick Santorum – of course, he ran for President – he spoke to this issue from the platform. Here’s what he – here’s what he had to say.
MR. RICK SANTORUM: Pres. Obama’s policies undermine the traditional family, weaken the education system; and this summer, he showed us once again he believes in government handates [sic – phonetic] – handouts and dependency by waiving the work requirement for welfare.
[END OF VIDEO.]
MR. MARTIN: But here’s what’s interesting about that. That lie has been completely debunked over and over and over again, and there are Republican governors who are requesting the waiver. Yet, the ads continue. He still makes the claim. Mitt Romney still makes the claim.
So, to your point, i- — it’s – it’s sort of like you’re playing this game here, and it’s not like you’re going to get anybody’s attention or support by keep playing that game.
MR. SAILOR: Well, it’s just good political theater. I mean both sides –
OFF CAMERA: Yeah.
MR. SAILOR: — play it. I mean we all know that. I mean you get a wedge –
Well, I –
MR. SAILOR: — issue, and you –
MR. SAILOR: — I – I –
MR. SAILOR: — run on it.
MR. MARTIN: Bu- — but, Chris, a lie is a lie.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well — and the –
DR. METZLER: Y- — yeah.
MR. WILLIAMS: — fact is that –
MR. MARTIN: J- — Joe – Joe, one second.
MR. WILLIAMS: Sorry.
MR. MARTIN: Chris.
DR. METZLER: — well, yeah, but it – true, “a lie is a lie”; but in this case, I agree with you a hundred percent, which is you’re – what Santorum is doing – and, by the way, Santorum is not the nominee – and, frankly, who cares?
DR. METZLER: So, from Santorum’s perspective, what he is doing is trying to reach a particular part of the Republican Party that believes what it is that he’s saying. The – but the problem is that’s not who we need to reach. Who we need to reach are the minority voters. Those are the folks who we need to reach, and that kind of rhetoric doesn’t do it!
MR. MARTIN: Angela.
MS. RYE: I think one thing that you all are saying is very important, and that is the messaging, but I think we need to take a step back from Election Day, November 6, and look at the representation of even the delegates for the Republican Party at the national convention. There were 47 Black Republican delegates at the national convention in comparison to the over 1500 African-American delegates that will be at the Democratic National –
MR. MARTIN: Now, that’s a –
MS. RYE: — Convention.
MR. MARTIN: — great point. I talked to an African-American who was at the Republican convention, and he said he’s critical of the Democrats because, he said, they use quotas in establishing –
OFF CAMERA: Exactly.
OFF CAMERA: That’s a –
MR. MARTIN: — their –
OFF CAMERA: — very good –
MR. MARTIN: — delegates –
OFF CAMERA: — point.
MR. MARTIN: — compared to the GOP. I take it both – one of you wants[?] to – [crosstalk].
DR. METZLER: Well – and the GOP –
MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]
MS. RYE: [Crosstalk] –
MR. SAILOR: I – I wanted to be —
MS. RYE: — [crosstalk].
DR. METZLER: Right.
MR. SAILOR: — to – to become a delegate to a GOP convention, I mean, you’ve got to start at a very early age.
DR. METZLER: Right.
MR. SAILOR: You’ve got to be a college* Republican, a Young Republican. You’ve got to be doing phone banking. You’ve got to be engaged. You’ve got to be doing fundraising. And let’s face it. If you grew up in Detroit, where I grew [up] – in Michigan –
OFF CAMERA: Yeah.
MR. SAILOR: — I didn’t get involved in the Republican Party until two years after college.
OFF CAMERA: Right.
MR. SAILOR: That was in 1992. So, my entire college life at Morehouse College and my high school life was spent de- — working with Mayor Coleman Young down in Detroit in the Democratic side of the aisle. So, it was very hard for a brother like myself to try to get positioned to become a delegate to the national convention, because we don’t have that runway that most African-Americans have in the Democratic Party.
MR. WILLIAMS: But – [crosstalk]- —
MR. MARTIN: I –
MR. SAILOR: And you guys –
MR. MARTIN: — I –
MR. SAILOR: — kind of have a –
MS. RYE: I’m sorry.
MR. SAILOR: — [crosstalk] – a quota system.
MS. RYE: I’m sorry.
MS. RYE: I’m sorry. I’m – I’m –
MR. MARTIN: [Crosstalk] – you’re not buying it, Angela.
MS. RYE: — no. I’m not buying it at all. And the fact that, you know, the fallback is often that there is a quota. At least when you look out into the crowd at the Democratic National Convention, you see somewhat of the face of America. I had a hard time finding one of you at the convention, and I think that’s a problem.
How do you speak to the problems that exist for all of America when every, single speech I’m listening to I feel like I’m an outsider? How does someone decide that they want to be a part of a party like that?
DR. METZLER: Well, I mean for me, as a member of the Republican Party, I don’t feel like I – I’m an outsider at all.
MS. RYE: Okay.
DR. METZLER: And – and if you look at the messages that were brought forth, if you look at the message from Condoleezza Rice, if – that was an American message. So, for me, that had nothing to do with race. It was an American message. She did talk about the fact that she was – she grew up in segregation, and she could be whatever it is that she wants to be.
So, yeah. There is the quota system. Part of this is, in fact, a systemic issue; and certainly, the party has to look at that if it’s truly going to become a more diverse —
MR. MARTIN: I –
DR. METZLER: — party.
MR. MARTIN: — want to play one more clip. This is Mitt Romney speaking on something, but I want you to watch the reaction to what he says.
MR. MITT ROMNEY: [Applause.] That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.
[END OF VIDEO CLIP.]
MR. MARTIN: Went right past it. Kept going. Interesting point there, but when you look at the budget proposals of his V.P. nominee, it doesn’t match that particular line. And when – and – and, first of all, I was shocked that “the poor” was even mentioned. At least Marco Rubio actually talked about it as well, because “the poor” does no- — has not come up a lot in this election on either side of the aisle.
Yo- — you know, how can he drive that point home as well, saying that, “Yeah. We’re” – “We can care for those folks in need”? When you look at the budget proposal – um-m-m, not necessarily backing that up.
DR. METZLER: Well, I think if you look at the – the – so, for me, the budget proposal was always a starting point for discussion, so – and that budget proposal, at this –
MR. MARTIN: No, the House –
DR. METZLER: — point –
MR. MARTIN: — passed it.
DR. METZLER: — well, yeah. The House, in fact, passed it, but it wasn’t passed by the Senate; and there was no other budget. What other budget opposed it? Did the Pres- — has the President passed a budget that opposed that? Where is it?
MS. RYE: But the Republican majority that will not allow him to pass anything, that won’t even consider an American Jobs Act that actually creates jobs – much to the – not the point of Mitt Romney last night, with his five points that don’t create the 12 million jobs he discussed?
DR. METZLER: Oh, but he didn’t always have a Republican majority, so when he first came in, what happened?
MS. RYE: The priority –
MR. WILLIAMS: The – the Republicans –
MS. RYE: — of –
MR. WILLIAMS: — the Republicans –
MR. MARTIN: Joe?
MR. WILLIAMS: — filibustered. That’s what happened.
DR. METZLER: We- — well –
MR. SAILOR: The priority –
DR. METZLER: — okay.
MR. SAILOR: — was –
MR. WILLIAMS: The Republicans –
MR. SAILOR: – healthcare –
MR. WILLIAMS: — filibustered –
MR. SAILOR: — reform –
MR. WILLIAMS: — [crosstalk] –
DR. METZLER: — it was healthcare –
MR. SAILOR: — and he spent a year – [crosstalk] –
MR. WILLIAMS: [Crosstalk] –
DR. METZLER: — [crosstalk] – time on health- —
MS. RYE: [Crosstalk] – wait.
DR. METZLER: — -care –
MS. RYE: Wait.
DR. METZLER: — reform.
MR. MARTIN: One second. One second. Joe, then Angela.
MR. SAILOR: [Chuckles.]
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, I’m saying the Republicans filibustered everything –
MS. RYE: That’s right.
MR. WILLIAMS: — and the healthcare reform passed with reconciliation, which basically meant the Democrats –
DR. METZLER: Sure.
MR. WILLIAMS: — had to take the majority and ram it through, because there was no bipartisanship – on either side. Even the stimulus to rescue the economy passed without a single Republican vote.
MR. MARTIN: Even though it had 40 percent tax cuts.
MR. WILLIAMS: Even though it had 40 percent tax cuts as a primary part of the –
MR. SAILOR: Well –
MR. WILLIAMS: — package.
MR. SAILOR: — I do like the stimulus, ’cause we were just talking about this –
MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, we –
MR. SAILOR: — [crosstalk] –
MR. WILLIAMS: — were.
MR. SAILOR: — [crosstalk].
MR. MARTIN: Whoa! Stop! Wait a minute!
MS. RYE: Right. Right.
MR. MARTIN: Did a Republican –
MS. RYE: I was going to say that –
MR. MARTIN: — say he —
MS. RYE: — actually – [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: — liked the stimulus?
MS. RYE: So did –
MR. SAILOR: You know –
MS. RYE: — so did Ryan.
MR. SAILOR: — no- —
MS. RYE: [Crosstalk] –
MR. SAILOR: — now –
MS. RYE: — won’t admit it.
MR. SAILOR: — now, I liked the fact that the federal government said, “We need to try to fix this” –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. SAILOR: — “problem,” but here’s the challenge with the stimulus. And we were just talking about this. I own property in Detroit. The stimulus did not trickle down to those urban areas. So, you look at all the minority – Hispanic, African-American – entrepreneurs. The banks were the benefactory [sic – phonetic] – beneficiaries of the stimulus. It wasn’t that small businessman, like myself, who’s trying to get a loan, who’s trying to create a job, who’s trying to fix up [an] apartment unit. That money didn’t trickle down, and the banks that got it – they’re not letting that capital –
MR. MARTIN: Gotta –
MR. SAILOR: — flow.
MR. MARTIN: — go- — gotta go to a break.
Part of the problem there was the money went to the states –
MS. RYE: That’s exactly –
MR. MARTIN: — held –
MS. RYE: — right.
MR. MARTIN: — by GOP governors. That’s one of the reasons. Mayors were saying, “Send it directly to the cities,” and so that was one of the fundamental problems with the stimulus money.