Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele says there's an insurgence within the party to "turn the elephant" and recast the stereotypical perceptions of Republicans to appeal to a broader base of voters.
"There is a large and growing number of Republicans who are kind of fed up with the way the party presents itself, the way we make the argument for our values and ideas," Steele said in a recent interview with Newsmax.
"We’re not a one-note party, we’re not a one-size-fits-all party, and I’m very encouraged to see that there are more and more Republicans who are willing to express that and to be in the forefront of making sure that we are all turning that elephant together to face the American people, to face the things that we believe, and to face the country, more importantly, on things that are more important to them."
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Currently, Steele added, there are “very few, if any” Republicans who would appeal to American youth the way President Ronald Reagan did to him when he was a 17-year-old black kid in a lower-income family.
Steele noted that the GOP has had some success, though limited, in getting minority candidates elected. Former U.S. Rep. Allen West of Florida and current South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott are two, but the party needs to do more across the board to convey a message of inclusivity to “all Americans . . . who will rise up and wear the Republican label, run for office, and espouse those ideas," he said.
The former head of the National Republican Committee also said House Speaker John Boehner should be working harder on immigration reform with Republican leaders in heavily populated Hispanic states such as Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, New York, and Iowa.
"It's not enough to stand up and say we're going to build a wall 10 feet high and electrify it and everybody applauds that," Steele told Newsmax. "That's welcoming to those people who are coming in the door and those who are already here."
"What you want," he added, "is something that's more holistic. Boehner can speak to that. I hope he does. Certainly, the likes of a Marco Rubio, but listen to Gov. Susana Martinez, Gov. Raúl Labrador of Idaho. So you've got folks out there that you can turn to in this particular conversation so it doesn't have to be Boehner's face that's making the message real, but we have Republicans in the party who can make the message real as well.”
Steele was the RNC’s first black chairman. He served in that capacity from 2009 until 2011. From 2003 to 2007 he was lieutenant governor of Maryland under Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
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