Paul  Weyrich

Republicans wonder why they take such a beating in these precincts on election day. The only place where President George W. Bush did well on election night in the Black community in 2004 was in Ohio. Why? Ohio had a constitutional amendment on the ballot saying that "Marriage is between one man and one woman." It received a half million more votes in the Black community than President Bush did. But among Blacks he did better there than anywhere else. Why? He supported the Marriage Amendment. Blacks and Hispanics care about this issue and Bush connected with them.

So why the no-shows at the debate? Few Blacks vote in Republican primaries so major Republicans skipped it. They figure the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees will have six moths between their nomination and the political conventions to debate their Democratic counterparts. Nice calculation but it may not work. First, there may be no invitation. Second, the Democrats, believing that they have the Black vote locked up, may decline the invitation even if one is forthcoming. And folks in the Black community may recall this snub. I can't see why Democrats would agree to a debate after the people have chosen their respective candidates. It is too big a risk. In politics, as in sports, nothing is entirely predictable. Last-place teams have up-ended top-ranked teams.

Hispanics present a different problem. Democrats presently have a large lead among Hispanics, but neither party has the Hispanic vote absolutely secure. Following February 5, expect an invitation to be offered and accepted for a debate before the Hispanic community.

When one party or another neglects a certain segment of the American electorate it does so at its own peril. The Democrats wrote off the Values Voters in 2004. They lost. This election they have targeted the Values Voters and, while they probably won't win them outright, they may win enough to make the difference.

I wish both Parties would target all the American electorate. No one should be neglected. The Republicans may pay for what they have done during the primary season. The Republicans made their choice and they must live with it. It is always a mistake to campaign for the general election during the primary season. Janet Folger, one of the best of the younger activists, organized a Values Voter debate. Again, only second-tier Republican candidates showed up. No Democrat was present, although they were all invited. The big boys were too busy campaigning for the general election. There may be a cost for this neglect. Yes, I'd like to see top Republicans pursue the Black vote. And I'd like to see Democratic front-runners genuinely seeking the Values Voters. One can only imagine.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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