Bush has skipped the convention every year he’s been in office. Skipping this year will make him the first president in 80 years, to not attend an NAACP convention.
Not only will this lose him votes with black voters, but I’d bet it will turn off some white voters too. It just reinforces the stereotype that Republicans are not interested in welcoming blacks into the party.
"Bush First President Since 1920s to Skip NAACP Event
July 9 (Bloomberg)
George W. Bush will become the first sitting U.S. president in eight decades not to attend an NAACP national convention, risking alienating some voters.
Bush, 58, declined to speak at the July 10-15 convention in Philadelphia because of
scheduling commitments,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One, adding thatthe current leadership of the NAACP had certainly made some rather hostile political comments about the president over the past few years.’’
The NAACP, the largest civil rights group in the U.S. with about 500,000 members, has criticized Bush’s Republican Party for racial division, and in a speech last month, chairman Julian Bond said Bush hasn’t lived up to his promises of compassionate conservatism. Bush, who received about 10 percent of the black vote in the 2000 election, risks further alienating a community of 34.7 million African-Americans, political analysts said.
There are going to be intense efforts to encourage African Americans to get out the vote by the Democratic Party,'' said Adam Clymer, political director of the National Annenberg Election Survey in Washington.It is one more argument that can be used to get people to get out and vote against’’ Bush.
Bill Clinton attended the conference in seven of his eight years as president. The year he missed the conference he sent Vice President Al Gore, NAACP spokesman Hillary Shelton said.
President George H.W. Bush, the current president’s father, attended at least one conference and invited the NAACP executive committee to the White House. It’s a matter of protocol to always invite the president, Shelton said.
``We’ve invited Bush to every convention,’’ Shelton said.
Shelton said the NAACP is organizing a ``historic get-out- the-vote campaign’’ in states such as Missouri, California, New York, and in Florida, where the NAACP and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson have claimed that police intimidation and discriminatory administrative practices prevented thousands of black Floridians from voting in the 2000 election.
Blacks make up 14.6 percent of the voting age population in Florida, or 1.4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Bush was certified the winner in Florida by 537 votes in 2000 following an unparalleled monthlong drama involving ballot recounts and Supreme Court intervention. Both he and Democratic rival John Kerry consider the state key to this year’s contest.
Eighty percent of blacks in Florida surveyed in a Quinnipiac University poll taken June 23-27 would support Kerry in the Nov. 2 election and 11 percent would vote for Bush.
``People are seeing that their vote could make a difference,’’ Shelton said.
Al Gore, Bush’s rival in 2000, received 94 percent of the vote of black women and 85 percent from black men, according to a report by David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an African-American research institute based in Washington. Bositis cited Voter News Service exit polls.
``The Bush administration’s policies are almost universally rejected within the NAACP, and I don’t think Bush or his campaign anticipate receiving any substantial black support in the election,’’ Bositis said.
Founded in 1909, the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the country’s oldest civil rights organization. Warren G. Harding, who died of a heart attack in his third year in office in 1923, was the last president never to attend a NAACP meeting, the Washington Post reported today, citing Shelton. Bush spoke to the convention in 2000 when he was Texas governor and running for president.
``It has become clear that George Bush only wants to address African Americans when it is convenient for him, and not when the issues are important to African Americans,’’ Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.
Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts and the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president this year, will address the NAACP convention in Philadelphia on Thursday morning, according to a copy of a schedule from the NAACP.
Yesterday, Bush addressed the League of United Latin American Citizens Annual Convention in San Antonio by videoconference, explaining how his proposal to grant temporary work permits for millions of immigrants would help the economy by filling jobs Americans don’t want to take.
Weighing the Benefits
Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on McAuliffe’s remarks.
Bush plans to ``fight for every single vote among African Americans,’’ McClellan said.
Although several of Bush’s top advisers, including National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Education Secretary Roderick Paige are black, Bush’s tax policies and opposition to affirmative action have alienated many black voters, said Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law and politics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
President Bush received the lowest percentage of the African American vote than any Republican president in recent memory,'' Persily said. The White House may havemade a calculation that the possibility for embarrassment at the NAACP meeting exceeded the possibility of gaining African American votes.’’