If it were just an isolated incident, the race baiting of a top Mitt Romney surrogate and advisor might be dismissed as a slip of the tongue, but John Sununu’s history of repeated slurs suggests his comments may be part of a larger strategy of the Romney campaign, particularly in view of the candidate’s failure to publicly admonish and dismiss the former New Hampshire governor.
It looks like another example of the Republicans’ Southern Strategy that dates back nearly half a century to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which led to a realignment of the two parties.
Bill Moyers, a top aide, said President Lyndon Johnson told him after signing that historic law, "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come." He was right.
Four years later Richard Nixon rode into the White House with his Southern Strategy of appealing to those white Southern voters who felt alienated from the Democratic party. Many considered his use of the phrase Silent Majority as a euphemism for white voters who didn’t want to openly express their racism.
Sununu’s statement that former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama last week was a matter of black loyalty led Laurence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, to charge, “My party is full of racists.”
Many saw Sununu’s playing the race card as a Republican reminder to white voters that the Democrats are the “black” party. (Sununu, who was part of the Bush 41 administration that helped drive Jews closer to the Democratic Party, has a history of anti-Jewish as well as anti-black sentiments; see an earlier Political Insider posting.)
Four years ago Obama was the first presidential candidate to lose white votes by double digits and win, and that margin could be even higher this year.
“(T)he real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has noting to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that’s despicable,” said Wilkerson.
The headline on this report asks, “Is Sununu’s racism part of the Romney strategy?” In light of the continued use of this high profile surrogate and the failure of the candidate to renounce and dump him, the answer seems unmistakable.