When many people think about Blacks and the GOP, the names most likely to pop into their minds are now-former presidential hopeful Herman Cain and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, both of whom exited their roles on a somewhat sour note. Each can boast of how they helped to build a young Black conservative movement, however disappointed those recruits may now be, especially in the aftermath of Cain’s departure from the presidential race.
“More people have come out of the closet as Black Republicans," conservative commentator Lenny McAllister told CNN.
Although allegations of improper behavior made by women outside of his marriage ultimately forced Cain to suspend his presidential campaign last weekend, the candidate also frequently struggled with articulating strong policy positions and neglected to build a strong campaign infrastructure. To many Black conservatives, his candidacy is now viewed as a lost opportunity to have made a significant impact on the GOP.
"A stronger campaign would have done a lot more for Black conservatism. So there are definitely some out there who feel a little betrayed and feel a sense of disappointment, and a lost opportunity as well," McAllister said.
But he also left a legacy Black Republicans hope to leverage in the future to play a greater role in party politics.
“There were probably many Black conservatives who weren't sure if the Tea Party movement were accepting of them, but Cain proved that they were," Richard Ivory, publisher of HipHopRepublican.com, told CNN.
"I think the best thing that Cain has done for the Black [conservative movement] ... and this is one thing that no one can take away from him — is that Cain has shown that a Black conservative in the future can actually rise through the Republican primary to become president of the United States, if he's very strategic," he added.
Crystal Wright, who runs the website ConservativeBlackChick.com told the network that the GOP promotes policies that are attractive to many young African-Americans who are angry and frustrated by a downward economy that has disproportionately impacted them.
"What we believe is to vote Barack Obama out of office," she said.
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(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)