‘They asked a long list of Republicans to come’

'They asked a long list of Republicans to come'
'They asked a long list of Republicans to come'
Associated Press

We talked briefly yesterday about the lack of Republican representation at the 50th anniversary event honoring the 1963 March on Washington, but a day later, the questions persist: where were the GOP voices?

Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond told MSNBC that organizers “asked a long list of Republicans to come, and to a man and woman they said ‘no.’”

In fairness, some prominent Republicans had good excuses. Former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush were invited, but poor health kept them away. That said, former Gov. Jeb Bush was invited to represent his family, and he turned down the invitation, too.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is currently on a fundraising tour, and though his public schedule included no events yesterday, he declined the opportunity to appear.

And how about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), whose office yesterday complained about only getting two weeks’ notice from event organizers? He was otherwise engaged in the afternoon (via).

Cantor, hosted by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., met with energy industry and community leaders at a crew camp in Williston, toured a drilling site and other oilfield locations in the Bakken and met with North Dakota Petroleum Council members in Watford City. […]

“I hope to be able to tell the president that there’s a lot for him to learn here as far as energy production here in America,” Cantor said. “North Dakota seems to have gotten it right.”

Oh, I see. Cantor couldn’t make it to the event on civil rights because he was visiting with oil industry representatives.

Keep in mind, organizers wanted Republican voices. They reached out to former RNC Chairman Michael Steele for help, and the Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, who served as executive producer of the commemoration, told the Washington Post’s By Ed O’Keefe that Cantor tried to find a GOP lawmaker to take his place but couldn’t find anyone.

It’s true that Congress isn’t in session, and most members have left the Beltway until after Labor Day, but – and this is key – airplanes exist. If the party considered it a priority to participate in yesterday’s event, GOP leaders could have made sure someone with an “R” after his or her name was there.

But they didn’t.

Two weeks ago, Reince Priebus led a Republican National Committee event to feature “rising stars” in the party, which emphasized diversity within the party. The point wasn’t subtle: from a distance, it may look like Republicans are an old, white party unconcerned with diversity, but Priebus actually cares.

Yesterday’s no-show represents an important setback for those efforts. It’s almost as if the party’s rebranding campaign is going backwards.

Civil Rights and Republican Party

'They asked a long list of Republicans to come'