J.C. Watts Being Pressed to Run for RNC Chair

Sunday, December 2, 2012 10:41 PM

By: Stephen Feller

After losing what the GOP thought was a winnable election against President Barack Obama, some Republicans are encouraging former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts to run for chairman of the Republican National Committee to help improve party turnout among minorities.

Current RNC Chair Reince Priebus already has an overwhelming number of votes in his pocket to be reelected, and appears to have a good amount of support aside from RNC members with a vote, reported Politico.

Watts didn’t say who has encouraged him to run, or whether or not he’s going to do it, but expressed displeasure with the party’s inability to effectively reach minorities – which has been identified since election day as a major reason Mitt Romney lost.

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“My concern right now, and I don’t say this necessarily as a candidate [for RNC chairman], my concern is that as a Republican, every single Republican in America ought to be concerned about what has happened in 2008 and 2012,” Watts said. “In this business, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Obama won 93 percent of African-American votes cast in the election, and more than 70 percent of Hispanic votes, leading many, including Watts, to question the GOP approach to minority outreach.

Watts is critical of the “old, tired” habit of forming a special committee targeting blacks or Latinos rather than working with them continuously and working to involve a more culturally broad group of Americans working to elect Republicans to the White House.

“That is a joke, that is so tired,” Watts said. “It’s window dressing to say, ‘African Americans for Romney’ or ‘African-American Coalition’ or ‘African-American Advisory Council.’ That’s insulting to the people that they ask to do it when you don’t put a permanent infrastructure in place to give it credibility.”

While the Romney campaign’s outreach effort has been heavily lauded and criticized by different parts of the GOP, finding a message to consistently reach minorities in a positive way escaped the campaign.

A CNN poll a month before election day found that only 33 percent of Hispanics thought Romney’s outreach to them was successful, as opposed to 77 percent being pleased with Obama’s effort.

Priebus has been credited with fixing fundraising issues and eliminating a debt built up during former Chairman Michael Steele’s tenure.

“The only demographic going forward, based on the 2012 numbers … that we can be encouraged by and we’ve got some capacity [for growth] would be the evangelical, pro-life Catholics. Now your establishment Republicans don’t want to hear that. But that’s just the reality,” Watts said. “For the first time since I’ve been a Republican in 1989, I can’t tell you who is in charge of trying to establish deeper relationships with non-traditional constituencies, especially in that black space at the RNC. I have no clue who it is.”

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Though Watts did not say whether or not he’d run, Priebus is believed to already have between 130 and 150 of the available 168 RNC voters supporting his election to a second term as chair.

With Priebus on a listening tour this week to meet with big-money donors in “vent sessions,” party insiders are crediting him with getting the RNC back on its financial footing. The expectation is that he will now pivot to lead a charge to rebuild a coalition of conservatives that goes beyond white Christians.

“The focus of the last two years was getting the RNC in a financial position to fund the most comprehensive ground game in our history and make upgrades that were necessary – digitally and otherwise – that had not occurred during the last couple years, and restoring the donor base of the RNC, which had been destroyed,” said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said.

“As we head into this next cycle on much better financial footing, the RNC will launching the most comprehensive political and communications outreach effort in the history of the party.”

For Watts, this means moving soon to counter what is an entrenched Democratic support system among minorities because of their history of embracing them, and especially after the results among minority groups in the last two presidential elections.

“We’ve so allowed the left to define diversity, that we don’t like talking about diversity, we don’t like talking about multicultural things,” Watts said. “To me, I take a biblical view on

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