Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post, December 9, 2013
The Michigan Republican Party is seeking to increase its visibility in Democratic- and minority-heavy Detroit, and last week, it brought Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to the city to open the party’s African-American Engagement Office. But if anything, the launch event put into stark relief just how much work the GOP has to do, when a largely white audience turned out to hear the senator speak.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has said that attracting more minorities to the GOP is crucial for the party’s future. He visited Michigan last month, hired radio personality Wayne Bradley to head the African-American Engagement effort in the state and launched the Michigan Black Advisory Council.
Paul initially spoke at the new African-American Engagement Office on Livernois Avenue in Detroit for about four minutes on Friday. According to the progressive site Eclectablog, “The seats in the tiny space were filled with well-dressed supporters, most of whom were African-American.”
“Today’s opening of this office is the beginning of a new Republican Party,” Paul said. “This is going to be a Republican Party that is in big cities and small cities, in the countryside, in the city. It’s going to be about bringing a message that is popular no matter where you’re from, whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re black, white or brown.”
Paul then went to a larger grassroots event at the Grace Bible Chapel, where there were protesters from the civil rights group National Action Network outside. The online invitation said the event was intended to “celebrate the opening of our African-American Engagement Office in Detroit.”
Detroit is approximately 83 percent African-American.