WASHINGTON, D.C. — Another week, another missed opportunity for Republican presidential candidates to address diverse audiences. During the week of July 23 the major Republican presidential candidates cited “scheduling conflicts” to avoid standing before the National Urban League’s Annual Conference in St. Louis and to avoid the National Council of La Raza’s Annual Conference in Miami Beach. As a group in recent weeks the GOP candidates have ignored major organizations that represent important communities, including America’s teachers, young people, African-Americans, Hispanics and the LGBT community.
Almost every Republican running for president has ducked major conferences of the NAACP, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), the National Education Association (NEA), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Young Republicans National Convention and even the College Republican Convention. In each of these cases, just one or two of the 10 Republican candidates accepted invitations to address these organizations and their members.
By contrast, not only is the field of Democratic presidential candidates the strongest and most diverse in history, as a group they have accepted the opportunity to address Americans of all backgrounds. All eight Democratic candidates accepted invitations to address the NAACP convention, seven addressed the NALEO convention, seven addressed the NEA, five are addressing the College Democrats of America convention this weekend, and four are addressing the National Urban League.
“It’s hard to blame Republican presidential candidates for shying away from defending their president’s and their party’s abysmal record with young people and minorities,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda. “But the Republicans’ snubs say as much about the future as they do about the past of the Republican Party. If the Republicans’ top candidates believe they can say ‘no’ to entire groups of Americans, then they’ll find those Americans saying ‘no’ to them too.”
The NAACP held its annual convention July 26 in Detroit. Though all Republican candidates were invited over two months ago, only Tancredo indicated he would attend. Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Huckabee all cited scheduling conflicts. Giuliani was in Michigan that day, and Romney has no public events scheduled. All eight Democratic presidential candidates accepted invitations to speak. [Detroit Free Press, 7/10/07]
“The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials invited all Republican presidential hopefuls to its annual convention at Disney World at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Only one showed up — Rep. Duncan Hunter, of California…On Saturday, seven Democratic presidential candidates were slated to attend a forum at the NALEO conference, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Joseph Biden of Delaware, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.” [Austin American-Statesman blog, 6/29/07]
“Arkansas Republican [Mike Huckabee] was the only GOP candidate for president who accepted the National Education Association’s invitation to speak at its first presidential forum…The other GOP candidates, however, chose not to pitch to the 3.2 million-member NEA — a foolish snub, union leaders said, given that the group’s membership is about one-third Republican.” [Boston Globe, 7/12/07]
The College Republicans will hold their 57th Biennial National Convention at the Sheraton in Arlington, Va., this week. Brownback is the only candidate slated to appear. [crnc.org]
Only two Republican candidates addressed young Republicans National Convention
Of the declared GOP Presidential contenders, just Mitt Romney and Duncan Hunter addressed the 2007 Young Republicans National Convention in South Florida. [Sun-Sentinel, 7/5/07] Rudy Giuliani declined to address the convention despite campaigning throughout Florida the same day. [Campaigns & Elections, 7/3/07]
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, besides Huckabee and Hunter, the “other Republicans have said they couldn’t come because of scheduling conflicts” to the National Urban League Conference. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/25/07] That followed NCLR’s annual conference earlier in the week, for which “Republican presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain, turned down invitations” also “citing scheduling conflicts. Organizers say that was a major miscalculation, particularly since the Republicans also stayed away from other important Latino conferences in recent weeks.” [Agence France-Presse, 7/23/07]
It’s a political and historic coup for HRC and gay cable channel LOGO. Earlier this month LOGO hosted the first-ever gay issues forum with the leading presidential candidates. All of the front-running Democratic candidates agreed to participate in the Aug. 9 event. HRC spokesperson Brad Luna said the organization invited all major party candidates, including Republicans, but no Republicans said “yes.” In fact, noted Luna, only one Republican even bothered to say “no.” That was Mitt Romney.