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How Republicans Can Reach African-Americans | The Nation

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Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

 Politics, wonkery and everything in between.

How Republicans Can Reach African-Americans

Rick Santorum on how he plans to improve life for American families:

“Having that strong foundation of the faith and family allows America to be in a position where we can be more free,” Santorum says. “We can be free because we are good decent moral people.”

For Santorum that means cutting government regulation. Making Americans less dependent on government aid. Fewer people getting food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of federal assistance—especially one group.

“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” Santorum begins. “I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.” [Emphasis mine]

Santorum did not elaborate on why he singled out blacks who rely on federal assistance. The voters here didn’t seem to care.

There’s an easy answer for why Santorum singled out African-Americans as opposed to whites—the widespread perception that blacks are the main beneficaries of federal assistance, despite the fact that whites make up the bulk of Americans who receive income assistance. Of course, Santorum isn’t the only Republican in the race who has a problem with racism. Ron Paul has his widely discussed newsletters, Newt Gingrich has his comments on low-income children and Rick Perry has the “niggerhead” ranch.

In other words, if Republicans want a shot at winning a non-trivial share of the “black vote,” then they should shy away from presidential candidates who casually express racism on the campaign trail or elsewhere.

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