On Sunday, presidential candidate Ben Carson — who now polls second behind Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire — spoke with Howard Kurtz on Fox News’ Mediabuzz about how the GOP has “neglected” black voters and their communities. Carson was elaborating on his recent USA Today column that said the Republican party has ignored black voters for too long.
“There’s no question that the GOP has a very excellent opportunity by paying attention to some of the communities they’ve neglected. And informing them about the history of the GOP, in fact a party that was formed as an abolitionist party, a party that worked hard to get gun rights for freedman, a party that pushed civil rights and voting rights. And many luminary figures in the Black community have been members of the Republican party.”
Carson further said that the GOP should push for “self-reliance” and “mechanisms for removing oneself from a state of dependency.” Carson didn’t explain what these “mechanisms” (which we would assume are government programs) would entail.
Carson’s comments come at a time when a historically low amount of African Americans vote for Republicans. Black voters have come out in single digits between 1 and 7 percent for Republicans in the last four presidential elections, with the majority of their demographic strongly leaning towards the Democrats.
Carson is likely attempting to appeal to black voters by speaking on race issues. Yet, considering the relatively small amount of African Americans who participate in the Republican primaries, Carson’s words probably won’t bring him a bump in the polls.
Carson’s personal story, which tells of a critically acclaimed surgeon who grew up in an impoverished area of Detroit, does paint a hopeful picture for struggling African Americans, a demographic that faces disproportionate poverty and violence. Regardless of his accomplishments as a black man, Carson has been criticized for not standing up for the racial plight of African Americans.
When asked on Meet the Press in August about the Black Lives Matter movement, Carson called the idea “silly,” and invoked the “all lives matter” statement that Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley famously said in response to African American activists.
In recent weeks, Carson has surprised pundits and the media alike with his surge in the polls in the first two GOP primaries states: Iowa and New Hampshire. He now trails Trump at 25 percent in Iowa and 12 percent in New Hampshire.
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