Thursday, January 19, 2012

GOP campaign rhetoric raising racial concerns

By The Admin on January 18, 2012

Hoping to win the hearts of Southern conservatives, Newt Gingrich leaned into his argument that President Barack Obama is a “food stamp president” and that poor people should want paychecks, not handouts — a pitch that earned him a standing ovation in South Carolina during a presidential debate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness, and if that make liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn someday to own the job,” Gingrich said. A day later, he turned the moment — complete with the cheering conservative crowd — into a TV ad as he works to claw his way to the top of the leader board in the closing days of the South Carolina campaign.

Rhetoric like that from Gingrich and other candidates is stoking concerns among some blacks that the political discourse is rewinding to the days of “Southern strategy” campaigning that uses blacks as scapegoats to attract white votes. Yet, it’s unclear whether this strategy — if that’s what it is — will work on an electorate now accustomed to seeing African Americans in high-ranking positions.

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