Conservative Ads Reach Out to Blacks and Hispanics

Looking to influence the elections next month, a new conservative group says it has bought over 21,000 radio and TV spot ads on black- and Hispanic-oriented stations to target minority voters. “This is a long-term project,” said John Altevogt, president of Edwardsville, Kan.-based Council for Better Government (CBG), which is sponsoring the ads. “We are using the Republican platform and President Bush’s proposals, the common platform of Republicans. This is the first step of a years-long campaign to win over minority voters.” After 1980, “political consultants said don’t go into an area where there is a strong majority against you, you will only drive up the voter turnout by igniting a debate there,” said political consultant John Uhlman, who is assisting with the ad campaign. Blacks were 12% of the population, but only 6% of voters in1994. But “Clinton & Co. decided to do something about it,” said Uhlman. “The black vote was up to 10% in 2000.” “Minorities often are afraid to admit they’re Republican,” said Altevogt. “This campaign will help change that. The growing black middle class believes in Republican ideas. Once one comes out of the closet, others can join too.” The ads do not mention candidates, but criticize Democrats and their ideas while praising Republicans. “Today,” says one ad, “one-third of African-American pregnancies end in abortion. Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies. Why, under Title X, schools can counsel scared kids to abort their babies without even consulting their parents. . . . The Democrat Party supports these liberal abortion laws that are decimating our people. But the individual’s right to life is protected in the Republican platform.” Says a TV ad featuring a black actor, “Democrats say they give us more. Ain’t that the truth! They give us more sales tax. They give us more gas tax. . . . . I’ve got a new program for you Democrats: Stop attacking me with your taxes! . . . In the meantime, I’m voting Republican.” Other ads, some in Spanish, promote school vouchers and attack Democrats for allowing the military to decline during the Clinton years. “It is folly to ignore America’s three million black veterans and active-duty servicemen when we talk about national security,” said Altevogt. CBG, organized under Section 527 of the IRS code, is not affiliated with the Republican Party. It has recruited Star Parker, founder and president of the conservative Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), as its spokeswoman on African-American issues. Raul Damas, director of operations for Opiniones Latinas, is spokesman for Hispanic issues. “This is a response to a reality that’s out there, which is that Hispanics are a natural Republican constituency,” said Damas. “We’re talking about Republican platform issues, not watered-down Republicanism.” He listed education reform, tax cuts, medical-care choice, and abortion as issues that can attract Hispanics to the GOP. Altevogt said CBG plans to spend “slightly under $1 million” to run the ads on TV and radio stations such as BET-TV, a black station in Kansas City, Mo., and KNKN-FM, a Hispanic station in Pueblo, Colo. “We got a good deal, bought a lot, and that amount will get us about $1.5 to $1.8 million worth of time,” he said. “These markets, on minority stations, tend to be inexpensive.” “The changing demographics of this country should indicate a change to the Republican political strategy,” said Damas. “We need to show effort and respect to Hispanic voters.” Altevogt said that Republicans do not have to win a majority, or even close to it, of minority votes in order to shift the political balance of power dramatically. In a large number of districts and states, Democrats regularly depend on upward of 90% of the black vote. “There is a 98% to 2% minority vote split in some races. But 30% to 35% of those people have sympathy with our issues,” said Altevogt.