Under the surface at the RNC convention, there is a concern about the count. Beyond the official delegate count for the Romney Ryan ticket, there is another count folks are expressing quiet concern about: the number of African-American delegates at the Republican National Convention. The interest in the numbers stems from a recent Wall Street Journal poll stating the GOP has 0% percent of the black vote. Recently, the Democratic polling group of Brilliant Corners found the black numbers supporting Romney are around two percent. Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush got around 9 percent of the black vote during one election and 11 percent of the black vote during his other presidential contest. The number is considerably lower than that of the nation’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon. He received 40 percent of the black vote when he became president in 1969. One black reporter from a black media outlet conducted her own unofficial tally of black delegates the first night of the convention by going to each black person at the Tampa event asking if they were a delegate to get as much of an accurate count as possible.
The issue was so noticeable that the RNC convention camera scanned the crowd to show diversity, particularly when black speakers addressed the conventioneers.
While the Convention was underway, results of a study on just how many black Republican delegates are attending the convention is released. David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies finds the numbers of black GOP delegates in 2012 is 47, up 2.2 to 2.3 percent. The numbers in 2008 for black GOP delegates was 36. That number is down from the high of 167 in 2004. Why are the black numbers so low? Michael Steele, former head of the Republican National Committee, revealed, “Black America will have questions with the ticket as it relates to funding for HBCU’s and health care as well as other issues to include teen pregnancy and incarceration rates.”
Meanwhile, at the convention, Steele believes Mitt Romney will win the presidential election in November. “It is our opportunity to advance a new conversation. The country is tuning in.” Robert Gibbs, Senior Advisor to the Obama 2012 presidential campaign is on the ground in Tampa, saying, “This election is more important [than 2008]. If we turn this president out, we will go back to a set of economic policies that were calamitous to this country. We can’t, quite frankly, go backwards.” Gibbs also says, ”I would tell this to black America, that this is a huge election for you. It is important to get involved and not sit this one out, to get registered and learn why this is so important to you.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an exclusive interview with American Urban Radio Networks hours before her speech, says, “Let’s not get trapped in the sense that we belong to one party. Let’s have people spread among the parties who can insist the parties are addressing all the issues that are of concern to us.” Rice makes it clear where her allegiance lies this campaign. “I understand. I was as proud as anyone with the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama. I am still very proud that we have done that as a country. For me, it’s now about who can get this economy turned around, who can have a robust voice in American leadership abroad.”
The conservative, first African-American female former Secretary of State supports the Republican party’s big umbrella approach, as a party for all people.
There are others within the GOP calling for more blacks to join the party. Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Victoria Jackson is a staunch Romney supporter who says , “I wish all blacks would come to a Tea Party. We are very desperate for blacks to join us.” She frequently attends Tea Party events, and believes “there is no racism in the Tea Party that is a lie the left is telling…they are just desperate because Obama has done nothing good.” Jackson is blaming Obama supporters for fueling what she terms an “ideological battle.” She says we are all one America without labels. “The word ‘African-American’ divides us… we don’t need a hyphen.”