Andrew Demillo, Miami Herald, Sept. 22, 2009
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Monday said his party must take steps to win over black voters, and he faulted both Democrats and the GOP for failing to address poverty.
Speaking at a historically black college near downtown Little Rock, Steele said Republicans and Democrats need to address poverty in discussions ranging from health care to environmental issues.
“Dr. King would be disappointed in the political leadership of this country for failing to address the least of us,” Steele, who is the first African-American head of the RNC, told an audience of more than 500 people at Philander Smith College.
Steele offered few proposals on how Republicans or Democrats could help address poverty, instead blaming both parties for not talking about the issue enough.
Steele also acknowledged that many African-Americans are frustrated with his party and said the GOP must reach out to the black community to remedy the situation. He said the party would need to take “baby steps” to win over black voters.
He attributed Bill Clinton’s victory in the 1992 presidential race partly on the frustration many African-Americans have with the GOP.
“The Republican Party walked away from the black community in the late 1960s. It was stupid. It was dumb to pursue a southern strategy and it came back to bite them in 1992,” Steele said.