Rokita spent some time revisiting the party’s history, especially concerning the African-American vote. He said that African-Americans vote 90 percent Democrat and questioned why.
“How can that be?” Rokita said. “90 to 10. Who’s the master and who’s the slave in that relationship? How can that be healthy?”
Lincoln, Rokita mentioned, was a Republican and asked spectator Kelci Newton, 14, if she knew the abolition and reconstruction movements were created by Republicans. She said “No.” Then the Secretary of State made what he called a “strong statement.”
“We have everything to be proud of,” Rokita said. “And the reason is because — to the core — this party is made up of more true leaders than any party on the face of the earth.”
While Rokita's intent in raising the issue was to encourage the party to reach out and seek greater diversity within the party, black leaders will likely respond negatively to the comparison. To be fair to Rokita, I've heard conservative black Republicans make a similar comparison, but as was the case with radio talk show host Don Imus' racially offensive comments about the Rutger's women's basketball team, it matters who is making the statement.
Rokita would also be well-counseled to practice what he preaches. He has hardly sent a message of tolerance by embracing Advance America's Eric Miller and appearing at the immigrant-bashing, homobigot's events around the state. The mixing of religion and politics was apparent in Rokita's speech as well. “It is Republicans under God (emphasis added) that will save this country if it is to be saved,” Smith quotes Rokita. “Just as we did when we founded this party in the mid 1800s.”
Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis) is likely to be the first to take on Rokita's slave comment. Crawford is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Indiana's voter ID law touted by Rokita. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed an Indianapolis district court judge's ruling upholding the constitutionality of the law. Crawford and other plaintiffs contend the law disenfranchises minority voters.