Steele: GOP Needs ‘Hip-Hop’ Makeover

Ralph Z. Hallow, Washington Times, February 19, 2009

Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party’s principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

The RNC’s first black chairman will “surprise everyone” when updating the party’s image using the Internet and advertisements on radio, on television and in print, he told The Washington Times.

Having been elected to the job that the Bush White House and its political guru, Karl Rove, once denied him, Mr. Steele is running the show his way. To those who claimed he can’t make the trains run on time, he has this message: “Stuff it.”

He stiff-armed an attempt to get him to elaborate on his public relations effort, saying he would be an idiot to give his opponents too much information, but indicated the Republican Party needs to break out of being considered a regional party.

“There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort” zones, he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. “We need messengers to really capture that region — young, Hispanic, black, a cross section . . . We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

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“We missed the mark in the past, which is why we are in the crapper now,” he said. “We had the White House, the Senate and the House and were not building a farm team over the last years. We could have been ahead of Democrats and their 50-state strategy.”

Top party officials and officeholders have suggested that Mr. Steele name as deputy chairman someone who can run the national committee’s vast operations in fundraising, communications, candidate recruitment and training, and voter identification and targeting.

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“I don’t do ‘cutting-edge,'” he said. “That’s what Democrats are doing. We’re going beyond cutting-edge.”

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