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Despite Obama, Black Republican Delegates Strongly for McCain

Black Republican delegates met today in Minneapolis to discuss their strategy for reaching or surpassing their goal of 5 percent black support for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), despite the historic candidacy of Democrat Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the first black major-party presidential nominee. In interviews, delegates said they plan a shoe-leather, door-to-door campaign to persuade African-Americans — a historically Democratic bloc that is especially energized this year in support of Obama — to vote for McCain. “I know that this will be a tough election year,” said C.J. Jordan, the national minority coordinator for John McCain. “The one thing I know is bare-knuckle politics, and I am not afraid to go into my community.” Jordan was president of the National Black Republican Leadership Council, which was formed during the campaign to elect President Bush in 2000. Members of the African American Coalition for McCain said they believe that good government is based upon an individual and that each person’s ability, dignity, freedom and responsibility must be honored and recognized. They feel very strongly that McCain is the best candidate to move this country forward and preserve the dignity of our democracy. “We need someone with a proven record. … We just don’t know where [Obama] stands,” said Rozalyn Strong, a delegate from Washington state who came with her mother, Rose, an alternate. “This is a very exciting election, and we have two opportunities to make history,” Strong said. “That should be very encouraging to people, the fact that Sen. Obama is in there, but I just can’t go for that.” On Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), the vice presidential pick whose short résumé has come under fire by Democrats, Strong said, “I like her — she’s a tough girl, a tough lady. I think that’s what the country needs right now. I would have loved to see it be an African-American, but I like Sarah Palin. I like what she stands for.” Strong said she understands the attraction of Obama for younger black voters, and urged a concerted effort by Republicans to counter that pattern. “There are not a lot of moderate and conservative voices being heard, but I believe that we still need to hit college campuses,” she said. “You just need to speak and give the message and hope that they are really listening.”