THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

A Missed Opportunity

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on July 9, 2008

By most accounts this fall’s election between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain will be extremely close.  Some electoral college projections have nearly 200 electoral votes up for grabs.  If the race is historically close every vote will be needed and neither candidate can afford to passover certain segments of voters. 

Obama has travelled into red states and has announced a 50 state strategy.  McCain, however, has not yet gone into a mode to track every possible vote come November. 

The presumptive GOP nominee began the fall effort after his early spring clinch in the posture of going after every vote with campaign stops and broad and diverse talk but of late has narrowed his sight. 

That narrowing of his sights probably was why McCain blew off an opportunity to pitch himself to a large black religious group that has been meeting over the past week.  The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) is currently meeting in its 48th Quadrennial General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.  The AME church is a historically “political” church that has invited presidential nominees during its past quadrennial meetings but only Democrats have taken them up on their offer.  Despite a potential evangelical tie to the Republican party, GOP presumptive nominees have not bothered to even make the pitch to a group that may not agree politically but may bound spiritually. 

That potential spiritual brotherhood combined with a possible razor sharp race should have been a formula that produced a McCain stop through in the AME meeting which is occurring in a toss up state.  But McCain chose, at least to date, to ignore the invitation and avoid a faith group with a deep history of political activity. 

Yes the group is predominately African American and received Obama with overwhelming enthusiasm, esprit de corps and pride but the pride was as much Christian based as race based.  Yes, the 40,000 screaming delegates, alternates and observers in the hall Saturday will probably vote for Obama by an overwhelming margin, but a McCain visit would be (or could be since the conference doesn’t end until Friday afternoon and the invitation is still valid) more than just a cheap political ploy for votes.  It could be a genuine admission by someone whose campaign is staked on his maverick, “I’m not your typical Republican” image that the party has done very poorly with African Americans and it is time to start anew. 

What better place to create a new relationship than with a group of faith voters, with a historic tie to the party and a politically active group that has invited you to come and say “I’m here, I’m different and I’m ready to work with you regardless have how you vote in November.” 

But alas the invitation remains ignored and a miss opportunity is created in a year when every vote will be needed.

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