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GOP: Broadening Appeal Takes Time

February 28, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ GOP national chairman Jim Gilmore told a largely Republican audience of blacks Wednesday that efforts to broaden the party’s appeal to minorities will take ``a steady and long-term approach.″

The Republican Party has invested a lot of effort in the past year reaching out to black voters, but has little to show for it, the Virginia governor told a crowd of several hundred gathered for a celebration of Black History Month.

President Bush made a concentrated effort to reach out to black voters during his campaign, but got only 9 percent of the black vote in the presidential election, compared with Democrat Al Gore’s 90 percent. Bush’s share was smaller than GOP nominee Bob Dole’s in 1996 and about the same as the 10 percent Bush’s father got in 1992 in a three-way race.

The disputed election results in Florida intensified hard feelings about Republicans in the black community.

``I intend to make this party a party of all the people once again,″ Gilmore said after reminding the audience of the Republican Party’s role under Abraham Lincoln.

He urged those in the crowd to find people in their communities who had a leadership role but were not closely aligned with either party, and write to him with the results of their talks. Gilmore had given the same assignment to state party officials at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee in January.

``You don’t have to ask them to join the party,″ Gilmore said, adding they should listen to the concerns in the black community and let people know, ``The president cares about them.″

``Only a human hand can reach across the chasm of fear, cynicism, and resentment,″ Gilmore said.

Earlier, in an interview, he said of Republican outreach to blacks in recent years: ``Our methods have struck out.″

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