Leaders of the Republican Party acknowledge they have a problem attracting minority voters — especially African-Americans, 93 percent of whom voted for President Obama in 2012, compared with just 6 percent for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
That chasm is at the heart of a new initiative by the Republican National Committee during February. In its first-ever Black History Month ad campaign, the RNC has launched radio spots aimed at African-American audiences in a handful of cities: Washington, D.C.; Detroit, Cleveland and Atlanta.
Each ad, voiced by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, celebrates the achievements of black Republicans described as trailblazers.
The ads can be heard here:
The Republican National Committee also held an event at Washington D.C.'s Howard University Tuesday, billed as the "2nd Annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards." That ceremony formally honored those mentioned in the radio spots, among them former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan.
The outreach is designed to use Black History Month as opportunity to ask African-Americans to give the party another look, though the approach is to highlight prominent black GOP leaders rather than to make policy arguments.
The RNC will also run print ads in newspapers this month featuring former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and others.
Democrats are also conducting daily outreach to African-Americans during Black History Month. Today the Democratic National Committee posted a tribute to the life of Rosa Parks on what would have been her 101st birthday.
As for the Republican ad campaign, the DNC's Kiara Pesante said: "The RNC's Black History Month ad buys ring hollow since their party has continually opposed policies that give all communities a fair shake and allows everyone's voice to be heard."