GOP convention parades rainbow coalition of speakers

Mary C. Curtis | 8/29/2012, 9:26 a.m.

In Mooresville, I asked some in the crowd, as I often do, if they saw a problem that a presidential ticket asking to lead a diverse country draws disproportionately white crowds.

 Ralph Brittain, 67, of Huntersville, N.C., professed an interest in unity, and though he said he was not sure Obama was a citizen, he said he was a big fan of Florida Rep. Allen West, an African American who has described himself as a “modern-day Harriet Tubman” trying to lead black voters off the Democratic party “plantation” — not exactly words of persuasion. Brittain judged West as “good on his feet” and said, “I’d love to see him get a good cabinet position” in a Romney administration.

At South Carolina GOP events, people often point to U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, an African American who beat out the son of Strom Thurmond in a runoff election, as an example of racial harmony in their party. Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House Leader who has labeled Barack Obama the “food-stamp president,” told me that Scott was his good friend during a conversation in South Carolina. He said that he and Scott have talked about ways the GOP can be more inclusive.

Until Republicans leaders make sincere efforts to talk with voters who may disagree with them, the party’s progress on diversity may continue to be most notable every four years at the convention podium.

At least everyone loves a good gospel choir.

Mary C. Curtis, a Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to the Washington Post “She the People” blog, The Root, Fox News Charlotte, Creative Loafing, and has worked at the New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily.