McCain to go to NAACP convention

posted at 3:00 pm on May 21, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

John McCain has decided to enter a lion’s den in a year where he can count on seeing no positive return for the effort. McCain will address the NAACP convention in July, a few weeks before the Republican convention and in the middle of Barack Obama’s efforts to unify the Democrats after their identity-politics meltdown this year. He skipped the convention last year, along with all of the rest of the GOP candidates except Tom Tancredo:

What a difference a nomination makes.

Now that he’s wrapped up the Republican nomination for president, Sen. John McCain has decided to attend the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Cincinnati in July. A year ago when he was just one of a pack of GOP contenders, he turned down the civil rights group’s invitation.

McCain disclosed his plans in an interview with the African-American publication Essence, which was released Tuesday. Asked how he might reach out to the black community, McCain replied that he would “go to places and venues that would allow me to continue a dialogue with the African-American community. I will go to the NAACP convention.”

Last year, McCain could be forgiven for skipping the event. His campaign had a financial meltdown during the summer, and he needed to focus all of his attention on surviving it. He had also skipped CPAC in 2007, and attending the NAACP’s event after spurning conservative activists would have stoked already-burning resentments into a conflagration.

Now that he has won the nomination and stabilized his financial picture, McCain is freer to do aggressive campaigning. He will likely win few votes at this event, with Obama running against him in the general election, but that’s not the point. Like his appearance in Memphis at the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, it starts a process that Republicans have long delayed in approaching black voters and arguing for conservative principles.

The question will be whether McCain takes the opportunity to espouse specific conservative policies like school vouchers and reducing regulation and taxes to encourage small-business growth in urban centers, or whether he will instead highlight some of the positions that cause conservatives to grind their teeth, such as on immigration and global warming. If he does the former, he will take giant steps towards becoming the Republican Party’s leader and reversing a four-decade-old capitulation to the Democrats in this community, a capitulation that hasn’t helped black voters or Republicans.

Here’s what McCain hopes to do in July — take some of the bitterness out of the relationship between black voters and the GOP, as he did in Memphis:


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It can’t be any rougher than Hanoi Hilton.

jgapinoy on May 21, 2008 at 3:06 PM

Visits to the NAACP by Republicans have nothing to do with getting black votes. McCain won’t get more than 5% no matter what he does. The point of visiting the NAACP is to convince moderate suburban whites that you are a nice, inclusive guy.

Clark1 on May 21, 2008 at 3:11 PM

This is a good thing. Republicans need to be more aggressive.

Terrye on May 21, 2008 at 3:12 PM

Like his appearance in Memphis at the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, it starts a process that Republicans have long delayed in approaching black voters and arguing for conservative principles.

Like I said in the other thread, this is something the GOP needs to do, regardless of how many votes we get. I’m glad to see the Captain agreeing with me on this.

Badger in KC on May 21, 2008 at 3:13 PM

Clark1 on May 21, 2008 at 3:11 PM

Yeah. Target audience isn’t the audience present.

Spirit of 1776 on May 21, 2008 at 3:14 PM

Clark1 on May 21, 2008 at 3:11 PM

Yep. Along the same lines: It will make it marginally more difficult to race-bait him.

CK MacLeod on May 21, 2008 at 3:14 PM

Import comments, please

Theworldisnotenough on May 21, 2008 at 3:15 PM

Get votes? Nope. Show gumption? Yep.

Limerick on May 21, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Good for him. He’s asking for the votes of all Americans and is not afraid to directly address his political opponents.

Gilda on May 21, 2008 at 3:17 PM

Highlighting his amnesty position would be the dumbest of all, since rank and file blacks aren’t that crazy about it.

BuzzCrutcher on May 21, 2008 at 3:17 PM

Smart. Don’t write off any portion of the electorate; even if you don’t expect to get their vote, you show them you are willing to talk.

Think_b4_speaking on May 21, 2008 at 3:19 PM

The question will be whether McCain takes the opportunity to espouse specific conservative policies like school vouchers and reducing regulation and taxes to encourage small-business growth in urban centers, or whether he will instead highlight some of the positions that cause conservatives to grind their teeth, such as on immigration and global warming. If he does the former, he will take giant steps towards becoming the Republican Party’s leader and reversing a four-decade-old capitulation to the Democrats in this community, a capitulation that hasn’t helped black voters or Republicans.

Well, first of all, I wouldn’t confuse the agenda and interests of the NAACP with, say, that of The Urban League — I’m not sure that the NAACP is much interested in school choice and/or vouchers, reduced regulation and taxes, or small business growth as priorities.

However, it will be interesting to hear what McCain comes up with as a message, especially since this group is going to be all for Obama.

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:21 PM

If he does the former, he will take giant steps towards becoming the Republican Party’s leader and reversing a four-decade-old capitulation to the Democrats in this community, a capitulation that hasn’t helped black voters or Republicans.

I agree with everything but the venue. The NAACP should not be the default “black” organization where politicians go to reach that community. There are several national black organizations that would be far more appropriate than this subsidiary of the race-industry that brought us Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, and countless other racists who don’t seek partnership or inclusiveness. Why reward them instead of going to a black group whose membership might just have the same values as McCain is trying to sell?

highhopes on May 21, 2008 at 3:21 PM

highhopes on May 21, 2008 at 3:21 PM

If you can name any other black organizations, I am sure McCain would be glad to hear.

Nonetheless, this is a good first step, and hopefully more of this will continue.

Ironically McCain seems to be more appealing among minorities (even African Americans), which may actually help break some necessary ground this coming November.

Darnell Clayton on May 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM

If anyone can take their bullshit it’s McCain.

It’s all too easy to forget that blacks used to be repubs back in the 50′s and into the 60′s before victomology became a PhD program, Nixon’s perceived southern stratedgy didn’t help and Johnson’s Great Society got everyone addicted to the dole and government programs.

This long historical piece by Frances Rice is a great read that McCain I’m sure has read.

http://www.nationalblackrepublicans.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.DYK-Unveiled%20Democrats%20Racist%20Past&tp_preview=true

patrick neid on May 21, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Darnell Clayton on May 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM

It is not a good first step it is pandering to the organization that ran ads all but claiming GWB was driving the truck that dragged James Bird to death. The Urban League or, here’s a shocker, how about a non-race-based organization focused on racial equality and diversity!

highhopes on May 21, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Ironically McCain seems to be more appealing among minorities (even African Americans), which may actually help break some necessary ground this coming November.

Darnell Clayton on May 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM

Can I ask upon what information this is based? I can understand some Hispanics might like his illegal immigration stance; I’ve heard nothing about his appeal to African Americans or any other minority group, including versus the Democrats.

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:33 PM

He should take Hillary’s lead and give his speech with a Butterfly McQueen accent. Since he’s not going to get any votes, at least we would get some entertainment value.

Cicero43 on May 21, 2008 at 3:34 PM

The question will be whether McCain takes the opportunity to espouse specific conservative policies like school vouchers and reducing regulation and taxes to encourage small-business growth in urban centers, or whether he will instead highlight some of the positions that cause conservatives to grind their teeth, such as on immigration and global warming. If he does the former, he will take giant steps towards becoming the Republican Party’s leader and reversing a four-decade-old capitulation to the Democrats in this community, a capitulation that hasn’t helped black voters or Republicans.

Of course, he’s going to do both. McCain’s appeal to moderates is his combination of popular conservative stances on most issues with popular moderate/liberal stances on a few others. That’s how he has operated for many years; don’t expect him to change now.

Big S on May 21, 2008 at 3:36 PM

For those of you that have forgot what NAACP stands for, it is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Of course if you were to ever say the phrase “colored people” out loud, you would be shouted down as a racist. This illustrates how absurd, rampant and threatening to free speech political correctness has become.

Maxx on May 21, 2008 at 3:36 PM

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:33 PM

I don’t have national numbers, but here’s a head-to-head for McCain in Massachusetts. McCain wins 73% of Hispanics against Obama, while Black voters break for McCain 50-49 against Obama.

amerpundit on May 21, 2008 at 3:37 PM

I am glad he is doing this, although I think it will enter one ear and out the other. The enormity of blacks voting for Obama is astounding. On the other hand, I believe we should reach out more to highlight the republican party’s accomplishments in civil rights and anti-slavery movement as well as the values we espouse.

jencab on May 21, 2008 at 3:38 PM

Interesting, McCain goes to the NAACP but Obama cannot be bothered with Kentucky.

Good for McCain

jharada on May 21, 2008 at 3:40 PM

Anything to wipe the tarnish off of Obama’s image.

right2bright on May 21, 2008 at 3:41 PM

He’s already going to be running against Obama, meaning that just about any political attack against the Obamassiah is going to be spun as “racist”. To skip the NAACP convention would only amplify that factor.

Even if he doesn’t gain a single vote at the NAACP convention, at least he won’t be attacked as racist for not attending.

Hollowpoint on May 21, 2008 at 3:42 PM

To be POTUS, you’re supposed to represent all Americans. Some of you have made very good points about the venue, etc. But in and of itself, I see this as a good thing. Kudos to McCain.

tomk59 on May 21, 2008 at 3:44 PM

My guess is that McCain goes and craps all over his own party again, calling every Republican except himself a bigot, racist, uncaring, backward ignorant creep unlike his own honorable self.

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:47 PM

take some of the bitterness out of the relationship between black voters and the GOP, as he did in Memphis:

They all booed. He took the opportunity to remember MLK to talk about McCain and his positions. Voting against a national holiday wasn’t wrong nor was it racist. . . it was conservative. National holidays cost money. Salaried employees get paid the same whether they work or not.

Anyway it doesn’t matter. He’ll say anything as long as he can pay for it with taxpayer money. I think it is near time that I bow out because this whole race is about bad vs. worse. The choice gets worse every election cycle.

When I leave, everyone will cheer as McCain’s ‘true big but compassionate Conservatism’ will require my taxes more than my vote. I need to get a job anyway to support this new conservatism with tax dollars.

ThackerAgency on May 21, 2008 at 3:51 PM

Memphis speech was fascinating. ‘the black voter’ sure seems outspoken at any rally, with any speaker, about any speech.

Made even that rain-soaked event seem all religious, then hostile, then all religious again..

Reaps on May 21, 2008 at 3:51 PM

The NAACP is an overtly partisan liberal political organization. Juan is going to accused of racism no matter what he does.

How about skip the NAACP and talk to black people as Americans, and not black people?

I know, I’m naive.

misterpeasea on May 21, 2008 at 3:52 PM

Many saavy comments above. He may not get 1% of the black vote, but he almost has to do it for defensive reasons, to keep his squishy centrist voters happy.

I hope he doesn’t pander, and just offer them other or more goodies than the Dems–buts its McVain, so I expect the worst.

james23 on May 21, 2008 at 3:53 PM

that is ‘big government Conservatism’. And you are right about that BigD. McCain is going to tell the NAACP that he’s going to tell his racist Republican party bigots to shut up.

ThackerAgency on May 21, 2008 at 3:53 PM

“Many in my party are racists. I disagree with that.”

Akzed on May 21, 2008 at 3:56 PM

I’d like to see McCain speak at Rev. Ike Wright’s southside Chicago group. Come on Juan.

saved on May 21, 2008 at 3:57 PM

My guess is that McCain goes and craps all over his own party again, calling every Republican except himself a bigot, racist, uncaring, backward ignorant creep unlike his own honorable self.

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:47 PM

My guess too. Part of a strategy to convince voters that he is really an “independent liberal” running as a new kind of Republican much more tolerant and open to race-based special interests than those evil old Republicans that have denied him his rightful spot in the world for all these years. In other words, he will throw every Republican for himself under the bus while repeatedly calling everybody friend and using that arrogant smirk that passes for a smile.

highhopes on May 21, 2008 at 4:01 PM

I’m willing to bet McCain gives a great speech that probably falls on deaf ears. So what. The speech will have been given and the revs will have to shut up for a while. Who knows, maybe Wright comes out and calls McCain a tricky white devil and Obama is forced to reply.

Shit happens. Stir the pot.

patrick neid on May 21, 2008 at 4:05 PM

I think it would be naive to meet with them unconditionally.

Buddahpundit on May 21, 2008 at 4:07 PM

Juan McVain will be treated like the token white singer on ‘Showtime at the Apollo’. He still won’t get it though and will still spend all his energy sucking up to people who hate all Republicans and conservatives.

Bill Brasky on May 21, 2008 at 4:08 PM

The question will be whether McCain takes the opportunity to espouse specific conservative policies like school vouchers and reducing regulation and taxes to encourage small-business growth in urban centers

School vouchers are the civil rights movement of our time. The Republicans could break that monolithic black vote if they just pursued this issue vigorously. Especially if Hillary snatches the nom away from Obama.

And I’ve always admired Jack Kemp’s notion of empowerment zones as ways of encouraging economic development and property ownership in the inner cities. In fact, seems ol’ Jack has been making quite a few appearances on McCain’s behalf lately.

John the Libertarian on May 21, 2008 at 4:20 PM

Swweeeeet! More soundbites of people boooing McCain for the MSM to play all day.

NTWR on May 21, 2008 at 4:42 PM

“W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the founders of your organization, was a Communist. I bombed Communists.”

Akzed on May 21, 2008 at 4:43 PM

It is not a good first step it is pandering to the organization that ran ads all but claiming GWB was driving the truck that dragged James Bird to death. The Urban League or, here’s a shocker, how about a non-race-based organization focused on racial equality and diversity!

highhopes on May 21, 2008 at 3:31 PM

If McCain can reach out to them, he can reach out to anyone! While I doubt he will make friends with anyone from the NAACP, it may open doors to other organizations.

Can I ask upon what information this is based? I can understand some Hispanics might like his illegal immigration stance; I’ve heard nothing about his appeal to African Americans or any other minority group, including versus the Democrats.

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:33 PM

As an African American, I can tell you that the current perception (at least around those I am in contact with) is that McCain is not your average GOPer, mainly because he tends to buck his own party (which gives him more favor with the Democrats).

While most of them will prefer Obama over anyone else in the race (including Hillary), McCain may at least be able to make inroads within the community, instead of ignoring it at large like most Republicans.

Darnell Clayton on May 21, 2008 at 5:13 PM

I think it’s a good move — as a commenter on one Fox show said a couple of weeks ago, McCain should go to every single one of those places the GOP doesn’t go!

It would be a huge contrast to Obama who can’t even bring himself to go to Kentucky or West Virginia — and in my opinion would make a great 527 ad, McCain showed at NAACP, Obama no show in Kentucky.
DKK

LifeTrek on May 21, 2008 at 5:17 PM

waste of time. instead of supporting conservative black groups, he’s giving press coverage to the naaL(iberal)cp.

he might as well go to the dailykos convention.

right4life on May 21, 2008 at 5:17 PM

McCain’s appeal to moderates is his combination of popular conservative stances on most issues

What issues does McCain have “popular conservative stances” on?

flenser on May 21, 2008 at 5:20 PM

As an African American, I can tell you that the current perception (at least around those I am in contact with) is that McCain is not your average GOPer

That’s a pretty accurate assessment, though not one very consoling to average GOPer’s.

flenser on May 21, 2008 at 5:22 PM

What issues does McCain have “popular conservative stances” on?

flenser on May 21, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Abortion, guns, and Iraq, to just rattle a couple off my head.

Look, no one has ever said McCain is a rock-ribbed conservative. That’s why he’s probably the only GOPer who could do this. Jeez, everyone, let him give it a shot. Who knows? This might be the thing to get the ball rolling towards a more beneficial black turnout for the Repubs.

Badger in KC on May 21, 2008 at 5:33 PM

While most of them will prefer Obama over anyone else in the race (including Hillary), McCain may at least be able to make inroads within the community, instead of ignoring it at large like most Republicans.

Darnell Clayton on May 21, 2008 at 5:13 PM

Let me just ask outright —- what (in your opinion) does the liberal black community want from the Republican party, and what could the Republican Party do that would entice members of the liberal black community to vote for it?

What would you like to hear McCain say to the NAACP?

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 5:42 PM

Badger at 5:33PM

On your list of McCain’s conservative positions, add heroic pork-fighter.

jgapinoy on May 21, 2008 at 5:56 PM

Can’t wait to see what concessions McCain will make to Jackson, and Sharpton. I smell reparations. How’s that for pork.

ultracon on May 21, 2008 at 6:13 PM

My guess is that McCain goes and craps all over his own party again, calling every Republican except himself a bigot, racist, uncaring, backward ignorant creep unlike his own honorable self.

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 3:47 PM

Are you serious? I’ll bet you $10,000 that he doesn’t do that.

juliesa on May 21, 2008 at 9:10 PM

I think he’ll do okay. He might change 1 or 3% of the minds of the people there! Gottah start somewhere. The speech should be about what YOU can do for yourself, not what the government can do for you. I believe a democrat said that…yikes.

SouthernGent on May 21, 2008 at 9:15 PM

Booty kisser!

madmonkphotog on May 21, 2008 at 9:39 PM

Let me just ask outright —- what (in your opinion) does the liberal black community want from the Republican party, and what could the Republican Party do that would entice members of the liberal black community to vote for it?

What would you like to hear McCain say to the NAACP?

BigD on May 21, 2008 at 5:42 PM

Hmm…let me run down the list.

Dafur (as no one is doing anything about it)
New Orleans (help remove corruption, and bring real relief)
Charter schools (give parents more choice in where to send their kids)
Invest in Africa (basically what Bush is doing, but bring more visibility to it).

Darnell Clayton on May 21, 2008 at 10:20 PM

it starts a process that Republicans have long delayed in approaching black voters and arguing for conservative principles.

Oh…gimme a break!

Bush 43 goes to the NAACP collection during the 2000 election campaign…and is rewarded with the James Byrd ad.

Ken Mehlman reached out A LOT to African-Americans during this past election cycle.

I grow sick of hearing conservative pundits criticizing our party’s leadership for not reaching out effectively enough to America’s black community.

Well, sorry Ed, but there no point in talking when not many people are listening. And, many African-Americans aren’t interested in the GOP’s message. They prefer affirmative action, as well as centralized government solutions to many of our nation’s concerns. That puts them ideologically at odds with most conservatives.

Ed, what should Ken Mehlman have done? Pulled a Jedhi mind trick on America’s black community? Just what did you expect the GOP to do? Reprogram the thinking and ideological preferances of the majority of African-Americans? Do they have a mind ray atop GOP HQ in Washington?

Let’s stop blaming our party leaders for not reaching out to the African-American community. For, in so doing, we reinforce a media-fueled perception that we ARE a bigoted party.

We’ve reached out to America’s black voters—they’re not listening.

smagar on May 21, 2008 at 11:23 PM

Hmm…let me run down the list.

OK—let me run down YOUR list

Dafur (as no one is doing anything about it)

Let some other nation send troops. How about France? What’s the French Foreign Legion up to these days? Why can’t the African Union deal with the problem. Why is Darfur OUR responsibility?

New Orleans (help remove corruption, and bring real relief)

“Help remove corruption.” OK—how? Send the US Army in to take over? Why can’t New Orleans elect non-corrupt officials?

Charter schools (give parents more choice in where to send their kids)

Ummm…Planet Earth to Darnell: Conservatives and Republicans have been pushing school vouchers for years. It’s the teachers unions and the Democratic Party that fights vouchers. You know—the same political party that receives 90% of African-American votes. Why don’t you take your complaints to the Democrats?

Invest in Africa (basically what Bush is doing, but bring more visibility to it).

“bring more visibility to it.” How? The President visited there, and had a major state visit.

Jeez…

smagar on May 21, 2008 at 11:33 PM