FreedomWorks to launch African-American outreach tour
By Martina Stewart, CNN Political Producer
Washington (CNN) – Sometimes in politics, things are black and white — like the historically wide gulf between the black community and the conservative movement.
But a new effort by FreedomWorks, a conservative organization associated with the tea party movement, aims to change that.
With an event Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh, FreedomWorks is launching its national “Black and White Tour,” an explicit, unapologetic effort to lobby African-Americans on economic policy issues at the core of the agenda of many fiscal conservatives involved in tea party activism.
In addition to Pennsylvania, during the tour, FreedomWorks CEO and President Matt Kibbe and FreedomWorks Outreach Director Deneen Borelli plan to visit Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“Obviously, Deneen is Black and I’m white,” Kibbe explained. The conservative activist and thinker added that he sees issues of economic policy and economic freedom as relevant to everyone, including African-Americans who have been disproportionately affected by the struggling economy in recent years. “Our theme is that freedom is a black and white issue,” Kibbe told CNN.
During the tour, discussion will focus on jobs and the economy, education policy and school choice, and energy policy including the Obama administration’s push for green energy, Kibbe said.
“And we’re also going to take on some of what we think is the divisive rhetoric coming from the left on race, some of the attacks on the tea party movement,” Kibbe also said. “And really get to this idea that in our community and, we believe, in America, you shouldn’t be judged based on the color of your skin, but [instead] on the content of your character. And that’s what Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] taught us and we’re afraid that we’ve gotten away from that.”
Winning African-Americans over to the conservative grassroots movement that has been a foil to President Obama almost since his first day in office will not be an easy task.
A compilation of recent CNN/ORC International polling indicates that 95% of African-Americans support the president while just 3% support GOP challenger Mitt Romney. The same polling indicates that 67% of African-Americans identify as Democrats, 29% as independents, and just 5% as Republicans and 25% of blacks describe their political philosophy as liberal, 38% as moderate, and 32% as conservative.
“We’ve stepped in the line of fire, I suppose,” Kibbe said, when asked about the polling data. “This isn’t just an election issue for us,” he added, “I think we have to connect with the black community with our ideas, we have to connect with the Hispanic community, we have to connect with young people.”
He added, “We’re thinking about the future. We don’t consider this a one-time political event. It’s really a social movement based on a set of values. And if you ignore youth, if you ignore some of the largest — the fastest growing demographics in this country, you’re really not thinking strategically about where you need to be. But also it’s just a basic principle. We want to be inclusive, we want to include everybody and we don’t understand why our country would ever be divided along racial lines philosophically.”
After Wednesday’s event in Pittsburgh, Kibbe and Borelli plan to take their “Black and White Tour” to Independence, Ohio on October 5.