Mitt Romney’s new Black Leadership Council is “more than what we’ve seen our president do,” Texas State Rep. Stefani Carter tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
“Gov. Romney formed a council of African Americans to advise him on issues from small business to job creation – and that step alone is more than we’ve seen our president do,” Carter, a council member, tells Newsmax. “President Barack Obama, under his leadership, has given a 14.4 percent unemployment rate among African Americans. That’s a real problem.
“Blacks should question – if they’re without a job or if they simply are looking for a job, they’re close but they’re not there, or if they’re recent college grads and they can’t find a job – why would they support someone who made promises of job creation but who failed to deliver,” she said.
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Carter, a Dallas native, made history in 2010 by becoming the first African-American Republican woman elected to the Texas House of Representatives.
She is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds degrees from the Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Carter is attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., to help craft Republican responses to convention claims.
She said Romney can sway black voters by “talking about his plan for jobs and economic growth. That is a message from the campaign that crosses ethnic and gender lines.”
“At the end of the day – when you’re tired from mowing lawns, like my dad, or you had a long day of teaching, like my mom when she taught elementary school – debt and spending and how the economy is moving are really the only issues that matter. Can you pay your bills? Is your home going under foreclosure? We have skyrocketing foreclosures.
“These are issues that Gov. Romney’s speaking about and are issues that should weigh heavily in any minority’s mind,” Carter added. “He promises a better future than President Obama – and that’s why we’re going to see minorities cross over to vote for Gov. Romney, or simply just to vote for him as they wouldn’t normally.”
Perhaps Romney’s strongest indication of his concern about African Americans was his speech to the NAACP annual convention in Houston in July, Carter said. Although his remarks were mostly well-received, the former Massachusetts governor was booed when he said he would work to repeal Obamacare. It created an awkward moment that forced Romney to regroup.
“He said a lot by even showing up at NAACP convention, knowing that they overwhelmingly support President Obama,” Carter said. “He talked about how he thinks he could help African Americans lower their unemployment rate, and he spoke about how a disproportionate number of blacks – it’s more than 27 percent now – live below the income poverty line.
“He acknowledged it in that speech at the NAACP that, while we’re one America, there are some important issues that really deserve special attention – crime, education, health and poverty – and that African Americans fare the worst compared to other groups.
“He spoke directly to black America by standing before them, knowing that this is a group that generally votes over 90 percent for Democrats,” Carter added. “People gained respect for him. He’s doing everything he needs to do to get the economy moving in the right direction – and African Americans, like others, will believe the message and they should.”
She acknowledged, further, that Romney’s traditional views on marriage resonate with black voters.
“Gov. Romney believes that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman – and that view is consistent not only with my view as an African American, but also with the view of many African Americans,” Carter said. “I believe that the majority of black Americans do not support gay marriage.”
Carter, who was raised in a Democratic household, became a Republican in 2004 while at Harvard Law. She interned in the Clinton White House as an undergraduate and worked at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
“When I was being raised by my parents who didn’t have health care – and, by the way, still don’t – with five siblings and a father who was a small-business owner, I remember asking my mother, ‘Mom, why are you Democratic?’ She said, ‘LBJ.’ And I said, ‘Well, mom, that was a long time ago. What else can you say?’ She couldn’t articulate a reason – and I knew at that moment that something was wrong.
“At the Heritage Foundation, I and had an opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge through researching and writing and, after further thought, I developed my philosophical viewpoint and ultimately came out of the closet as a Republican in 2004.”
Carter did so through an opinion piece in USA Today – “Blacks Should Reflect on Conservatism” – published two days after Republican George W. Bush won his second presidential term.
“I called my mom and I said, ‘Mom, go pick up the newspaper,’ ” Carter began. “She said, ‘OK.’ I said, ‘Call me when you get it.’ ”
Later in the day, “She called me,” Carter continued. “She said, ‘OK, we have the paper. What’s in here?’ I said, ‘OK, turn to page 14A.’ And sure enough she did – and I could hear on the phone this long gasp. They were gasping at the headline. And, then, I heard ‘click.’
“That was the beginning of my philosophical change of viewpoint – and since then, I have only grown to love the principles embodied in the party even more,” Carter added. “It’s the party of opportunity and inclusion – and we just have to make sure we get the message out.”
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