President Bush's advisers hope his trip to Africa this month will soften opposition to the administration among African-Americans--and possibly help the eventual Republican presidential nominee and other GOP candidates to make inroads into the black vote this fall.
"The president really cares about Africa," says a senior White House official, and Bush hopes to make that clear by underscoring his commitment to spending millions of dollars to fight AIDS, HIV, malaria, and other diseases as part of his ongoing programs to help African nations.
The hope among GOP strategists is that, at minimum, African-American voters at home won't be motivated to cast ballots against Republican candidates this fall when they see that Bush and, by implication, his party have Africa's best interests at heart.
Black voters in the United States have given little support to Bush throughout his presidency and have gone heavily Democratic. Bush plans to spend a week in Africa starting February 15 visiting Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia.
By Kenneth T. Walsh