The GOP is taking umbrage to charges of racism in their opposition to President Obama.
Stung by accusations from some Democrats that bigotry underlies virulent opposition to President Obama and wary of further setbacks among minority voters, some Republicans are lashing back with a new mantra: We are not racists.
That theme was on display over the weekend at an annual pep rally for conservative voters where several of the GOP’s potential 2012 challengers to Obama began laying out their arguments to unseat the man who made history as the country’s first black president.
Republicans are walking an aggressive but delicate line as they try to assure voters that their profound displeasure with the president is based on his policies, not his race. But some Democrats, such as former President Carter, have alleged that the heated opposition to Obama that has surfaced this summer came about chiefly because he is black.
“It’s important that we robustly reject any charges that we’re racist,” said Gary Bauer, president of the social conservative group American Values, who brought activists to their feet Friday with a pugnacious speech arguing that conservatives would gladly support any minority candidate for president who embraced their “pro-family, pro-life” values.
“There’s a reason that partisans are quick to throw the racist charge out there — because they know that, unresponded to and undefended, it not only damages Republican chances with minority voters, but it also damages the party with millions of white suburban voters who, like most of us, desperately want racial reconciliation and believe that is what the country has to do to survive long term,” Bauer said later.
They might gain a little more traction with their push-back if they took a little more positive action, such as denouncing those in their ranks like Rush Limbaugh who are using racist dog-whistles to his listeners. Denounce them loudly, firmly, and unconditionally and we’ll believe it.