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Do Blacks Have a Reason to Vote GOP? Michael Steele Says No

Michael Steele
RNC Chairman Michael Steele AP

The Republican Party has not given African Americans a good reason to vote for the party, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said Tuesday night.

"You really don't have a reason to, to be honest -- we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True," Steele said at DePaul University, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Steele, the first African-American chairman for the RNC, said the GOP has lost its historical link to African Americans.

"This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass," he said. "The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don't walk away from parties, their parties walk away from them."

He said the GOP's strategy of appealing to white, male voters in the South alienated minorities and ultimately proved ineffective when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992.

Democrats have sought to highlight the GOP's lack of diversity and recently criticized the party for not having many strong female candidates for this year's midterm elections.

Steele added, however, that Republicans should embrace the Tea Party movement, which a recent CBS News/ New York Times poll found is overwhelmingly white and represents the South more than any other region. Steele said the Tea Party represents "a third or more of the voting age population," but the CBS News / New York Times poll found that, in fact, 18 percent of Americans identify with the Tea Party. Most of the Tea Partiers, however, do also identify as Republican.

"I have advised our state chairs: Don't turn your nose up, or turn away those who are active in the Tea Party movement. Embrace them. Welcome them. Talk to them," Steele said. "Those activists have now become a very large part of our voting bloc."

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