WASHINGTON WATCH: Can The GOP Attract African Americans? (VIDEO)

This week here in D.C., the American Conservative Union kicked off the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. One prominent GOP strategist described it as “the Star Wars bar scene of the conservative movement.”

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable feathers Charles Butler, conservative talk show host from Chicago; Sophia Nelson, political commentator for theGrio.com; Ken Blackwell, former Secretary of State of Ohio, also chairman of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign also in Ohio; and “The Black Eagle” for Sirius XM Radio, Joe Madison.

 

MR. MARTIN:  Welcome back, folks.

This week here in D.C., the American Conservative Union kicked off the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC.  One prominent GOP strategist described it as “the Star Wars bar scene of the conservative movement.”

We’re taking it to the roundtable with Charles Butler, conservative talk show host from Chicago; Sophia Nelson, political commentator for theGrio.com; Ken Blackwell, former Secretary of State of Ohio, also chairman of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign also in Ohio; and “The Black Eagle” for Sirius XM Radio, Joe Madison.

All – folks, welcome to the show.

This CPAC discussion that I’ve been witnessing out of Washington, D.C., to me, is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen in my life.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  No, it really is, because here’s the deal.  It’s 2013.  Folks are all upset because CPAC didn’t invite Governor Chris Christie or Governor Bob McDonnell, and I’m saying the presidential election is three years away.  They can invite whoever they want to.  I do think it’s idiotic and stupid for them to invite Donald Trump.  I mean –

OFF CAMERA:  Of course –

MR. MARTIN:  — I grant you can invite anybody you want to –

OFF CAMERA:  Oh.  No question.

MR. MARTIN:  — but talk about somebody who is an absolute idiot

MR. KEN BLACKWELL:  Yeah.  Yeah.

MR. MARTIN:  — and then when you align yourself with someone like that who’s an absolute birther, who says crazy stuff, and who absolutely pimped the conservative movement and the Republican Party during the 2012 presidential election – that, to me, does show if CPAC wants to be taken seriously, you don’t invite a fool like that.

MR. CHARLES BUTLER:  Well, that’s true.  That’s true.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. BUTLER:  I mean what can you say

OFF CAMERA:  We-e-ell.

MR. BUTLER:  — you know?  I mean as you said, Donald did pimp the party for self-aggrandizement.  You know, he pimped his show.  He publicized his show – those kind[s] of things.

MR. MARTIN:  ’Cause he had no intentions [of] running.

MR. BUTLER:  No.

MR. MARTIN:  It was a big joke.

MR. BUTLER:  Why would he want to?  You know, I mean he can’t do what he wants to do in the White House.  You know, you’re 24-7, 365 a year with someone else – which is one of the things the President doesn’t like.  You know, he doesn’t have a lot of – no president really has, I think, really enjoyed the presidency because of lack of privacy.

But, you know, CPAC has been a lot of fun.  It’s been interesting; and this year I’ve seen more blacks, more Asians and a lot of Hispanics that have basically taking over the program.  Yesterday, they did a program on immigration, and everyone on the dais [was] pro-immigration.

Now, I know people who are –

MR. MARTIN:  Now – now –

MR. BUTLER:  — anti

MR. MARTIN:  — that butt kickin’ in November is a huge reason for them.  And let’s just be honest.  The Republican Party – you saw Senator John McCain when he ran for reelection.  I mean he ran as far away from his own position – at the end of the day, President Obama getting significant Latino support caused a huge flip in the Republican Party when it came to immigration.

Joe, you’re down there –

MR. JOE MADISON:  I – I know –

MR. MARTIN:  — laughing.

MR. MADISON:  — and the reason I’m laughing [is] I’m just tempted [to say] we got a lot.  A lot from what?  I mean, you know, is that 10 to 20?  That’s double your number!  I mean let’s be –

MR. MARTIN:  ’Cause I was there.  I dropped by last year.  I didn’t see many brothers and sisters there.

MR. MADISON:  — I think – so – so – but here’s the point.  And I’m being kind.  They obviously feel you’re growing, and there’s obviously an outreach effort.

What I don’t understand, though, is how the senator from Florida, who is supposed to have a really strong – [chuckles] – immigration position, didn’t even bring it up.  You would think he would bring it up.

MR. BLACKWELL:  He has –

MR. BUTLER:  Well, he –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — gotten plenty of airtime on the issues.  Nobody questions where Marco Rubio is on the issue of immigration and why and how he got there.

But let me just say –

MR. MADISON:  But why wouldn’t –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — you – you –

MR. MADISON:  — he speak –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — hold – hold it.  Hold it.

MR. MADISON:  — well, why wouldn’t he –

MR. BLACKWELL:  You – you guys –

MR. MADISON:  — bring it up?

MR. BLACKWELL:  — you guys have, in fact, put a death knell in conservatism and the Republican Party.  We have 30 –

MR. MARTIN:  No.  Who ha- —

MR. BLACKWELL:  — out of the fi- —

MR. MARTIN:  — I haven’t.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — out of the 50 governors.  You know, you said this –

MR. MARTIN:  No, no, no.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — is all a response to the last election.

MR. MARTIN:  It is!

MR. BLACKWELL:  No, it is not.

MR. MARTIN:  Ken, Ken –

MR. BLACKWELL:  It is –

MR. MARTIN:  — Ken!  Ken!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — not.

MR. MARTIN:  Senator John McCain –

MR. BLACKWELL:  ’Scuse me.

MR. MARTIN:  — who was one of the –

MR. BLACKWELL:  It is – it is not.

MR. MARTIN:  — strongest immigration reform advocates in America –

MR. BLACKWELL:  But his people –

MR. MARTIN:  — ran –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — I – I –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no.  Hold on one second.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — I respect –

MR. MARTIN:  One second!  One second!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — you, Martin, but –

MR. MARTIN:  Can – can you ho- –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — you’re not a conservative.

MR. MARTIN:  — Ken!  Ken!

MR. BLACKWELL:  Day in and day –

MR. MARTIN:  Ken!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — out, I’m in there.

MR. MARTIN:  Ken!  Ken!

MR. BLACKWELL:  So, don’t –

MR. MARTIN:  Ken.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — tell me what it is.

MR. MARTIN:  No, no, no.  No, no, Ken.  I can tell you when Senator McCain

ran –

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  — he ran so far from his own position because he had a Tea Party person running against him in the primary.  Senator John McCain did.  And all of a sudden, you had individuals who were strongly anti-immigration reform who flipped.

So, are you telling me, even with the glasses you have on, you cannot see how the Republican Party has flipped –

MR. BLACKWELL:  But it fli- —

MR. MARTIN:  — as a result of the

MR. BLACKWELL:  — but – but –

MR. MARTIN:  — butt kicking in November?

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. BLACKWELL:  Now – now, hold it.  Can I – can I – hold it.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. BLACKWELL:  Can I finish my –

MR. MARTIN:  Go ahead!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — answer?

First, we have –

MR. MARTIN:  I need some binoculars, if you can’t see that!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — no, no.  We have 30 out of the 50 governors.

MR. MARTIN:  Right!

MR. BLACKWELL:  We have more state legislature controlled, both in the house and the senate –

MR. MARTIN:  Ken, I’ve never said –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — than the –

MR. MARTIN:  — the Republican Party or –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — than the – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — conservatives are dead.  I never said that.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — so – than the Democrats.   So – so –

MR. MARTIN:  I’m speaking of –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — there is no reason

MR. MARTIN:  — one issue.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — to run away from principle and agenda.

MR. MARTIN:  I never said that, Ken.

MR. BLACKWELL:  And – [crosstalk]- —

MR. MARTIN:  Ken, Ken, Ken, let me correct –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — okay.

MR. MARTIN:  — let me correct you.  Obviously, you don’t watch “Washington Watch.”  I have talked about … the difference between running on a national scale – presidential races and congressional races and senatorial races – and what’s happening in the states.

MR. BLACKWELL:  And where’s – w- — w- —

MR. MARTIN:  Well, Ken – Ke- —

MR. BLACKWELL:  — well, where’s –

MR. MARTIN:  — Ken, hold –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — w- — where – where are –

MR. MARTIN:  — Ken, one second!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — most of the decisions –

MR. MARTIN:  I have said –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — impacting our lives –

MR. MARTIN:  — Ken, Ken, one second.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — being made?

MR. MARTIN:  Ken, you clearly don’t watch this show, because my own viewers will tell you I have always talked about the fact that what happens when – people [are] most effected by state races, by county commissioners, by city councils.  I’ve said that.

MR. BLACKWELL:  So, don’t –

MR. MARTIN:  And I –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — don’t – don’t –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no, no.  Ken.  Ken!

MR. BLACKWELL:  — hold up.  Martin –

MR. MARTIN:  Ken, I’ve –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — don’t define –

MR. MARTIN:  — said that –

MS. SOPHIA NELSON:  [Crosstalk] – back to the – [crosstalk]- —

MR. BLACKWELL:  — don’t – don’t de- —

MR. MARTIN: — no, no.  I ne- — Ken, I n- —

MR. BLACKWELL:  — don’t define –

MR. MARTIN:  — I never said you were dying.

MR. BLACKWELL:  — our response.

MR. MARTIN:  What I said is on immigration reform, the party has changed because it was forced to when they saw 70-plus percent of Hispanics go for President Obama.  They said, “We[’ve] got a problem,” and even their own members –

MS. NELSON:  Roland, I –

MR. MARTIN:  — have said it.

MS. NELSON:  — agree.

MR. MARTIN:  Sophia.

MS. NELSON:  What I would like to talk about, though, is the growth of the Republican Party and the conservative movement relative to people of color, because I think that’s really the subtext of what we’re talking about.

And I respect Ken, but I respectfully disagree.  To say that – and I’ve heard this said on many occasions by different Republicans or conservatives – that we don’t have a problem, and to continue to be in denial that we attract black people as Republicans, or as conservatives, or people of color is just not true!  And at some point, we’re going to have to have that come-to-Jesus meeting with ourselves and with the electorate that says, “How do we take Republican politics, or [the] conservative message, and actually get voters of color to respond to us and want to be a part of us?”

I think that’s the real issue we ought to be discussing –

MR. BLACKWELL:  On a national level –

MS. NELSON:  — instead of pretending that we don’t have a problem!

MR. MARTIN:  Charles.

MR. BLACKWELL:  No, no.  On the national –

MR. BUTLER:  See, I – I think –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — that’s –

MR. BUTLER:  — I think –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — that’s not the problem –

MR. BUTLER:  — well, I – I –

MR. BLACKWELL:  — you know.

MR. BUTLER:  — I think –

MS. NELSON:  Ken!

MR. BUTLER:  — when you talk about “conservative,” you know, we have to remember that the term “conservative” is used synonymously with being racist and racism, in the media, by people, all the time.  And so when black folks say to you, “Well, how can you be a conservative?” they – I’m not trying to conserve anything for white males.  I’m trying – we’re talking about morals, values and outlook.  And when we line this up, like we did VON, people said, “Well, you know, I guess I’m a conservative.”

“Yes, you are a conservative.  So, why are you voting Democrat?” you know.

And people go, “Well, I don’t know.  Because my grandfather did,” “Because my mother did.”

You know –

MS. NELSON:  That’s not why!

MR. BUTLER:  — I think –

MS. NELSON:  They[’ve] got better –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold on a s- —

MS. NELSON:  — outreach!

MR. BUTLER:  [Crosstalk]- —

MS. NELSON:  I’m sorry.

MR. BUTLER:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — hold tight.  No, no.  Hold tight one second.  I[’ve] got –

MR. BUTLER:  — a- — all I’m –

MR. MARTIN:  — to pay some bills.  Hold on.  We gotta conserve some money.

MR. BUTLER:  Okay.

[LAUGHTER.]