It's no secret that I hoped President Bush would go to the NAACP National Convention to engage in a dialogue and debate about what policies would most help African-American communities. But I was thrilled when he went to the National Convention of the Urban League in Detroit to talk about creating an "ownership society," improving our schools, increasing homeownership, creating jobs, encouraging entrepreneurship, promoting wealth creation and retirement prosperity, and full participation in a growing economy.
The president made a simple yet profound request to a diverse audience gathered at the convention: He asked for their vote. It was a genuine and sincere request from a Republican president urging African-Americans to come home to the Party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. I believe the theme of an ownership society and democratizing capitalism will resonate with the nation generally and within African-American, Latino and Hispanic communities specifically.
The Republican Party had a great history that it turned aside. The Democratic Party had a horrible history and overcame it. Thanks to the efforts of Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and others, the Republican Party now has a second chance to heal its fractured relationship with African-Americans. As Bush implied, we cannot afford to let this opportunity slip away.
Bush asked his audience whether the policies advocated by the Democratic Party truly represented their values: support of faith-based institutions, quality education, economic opportunity, wealth creation and retirement prosperity. "Are Democrats taking your vote for granted?" he asked. Those are profound questions.
At the same time, the president acknowledged that the Republican Party has much work to do to repair its image with minority men and women. This type of humility strengthens my belief that Bush is the man who can help energize the Republican Party to fight for all votes, of all Americans, without regard to their racial, religious or ethnic background.
Bush has tirelessly pursued policies to help all Americans. The 2003 tax-rate reductions have proven a success, the economic recovery is strong and more than 1.5 million new jobs have been created since last August.
Admittedly, America has a long way to go to provide a full measure of justice and equality for all - in reality and not just as a dream. Toward this end, the president has also been a strong advocate for homeownership.