Thursday, June 19, 2008

J.C. Watts Tulsa Article

Watts says his support not guaranteed for national GOP

by: JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
6/17/2008 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, for nearly two decades a star supporter of Republican presidential nominees, has declared himself a "free agent" for 2008.

Even though he has donated to John McCain's campaign, Watts indicated that the GOP's presumptive nominee should not take his vote to the bank yet.

"When I say that I am a free agent, I am still a Republican, but I am like so many others out there that say: 'Don't assume my vote. Don't take my vote for granted,' '' he said Monday.

Watts said he was speaking as a member of both the black community and the faith community. Both, he said, have been "terribly taken for granted'' by the Republican Party.

"It does get a little frustrating,'' Watts said, adding that he's heard from many others who are saying the same thing. "For 20 years there has been a lot of talk but there hasn't been a lot of action when it comes to growing the base of the party.''

Asked what he would have to hear from McCain, Watts indicated that it may be too late.

"This is a four-, five-year effort. It is not a four-month effort,'' he said. "I have been advising the McCain folks for a year and a half to do what I don't see them doing.''

Watts said Republicans cannot wait until just before a general election and announce that they are going to speak to groups such as the NAACP and the Urban League.

He also cited the lack of blacks in key positions not only in the McCain campaign, but in the Republican National Committee and other top GOP campaign organizations.

Republicans are not successful in reaching out to minorities because they have no relationship with them, Watts said.

McCain's campaign did not return a call seeking comment.

Since the early 1990s, Watts has played high-profile roles in supporting GOP presidential nominees.

In 1992, he gave one of four speeches at the national convention seconding the nomination of then-President George H.W. Bush.

Four years later, Watts was added to the roster of speakers at that year's GOP convention amid complaints that conservatives were being pushed aside.

And, in 2000, he was an early supporter of George W. Bush and was tapped as one of three revolving hosts of that year's national convention.

Afterward, Watts, who by then was in the House Republican leadership, joined McCain in a grass-roots effort to expand their party's majorities in Congress.

Watts' statements have been viewed as an indication that he is leaning toward supporting Barack Obama for president.

"That is not my intention,'' he said.

Watts echoed comments of others in expressing "community pride'' for Obama.

"I am proud of what he has accomplished,'' he said, adding, however, that he has a number of policy differences with Obama on issues such as health care and taxes.

In regard to the presidential race, Watts said he was urging others to "follow their hearts in November.''

"I'm hopeful, as the course of the campaign plays out, that Sen. McCain will work as hard to merit our votes as he is for other voters, that he would give them reason to vote for him in November,'' he said.


Jim Myers 202-484-1424

1 comment:

sooner_1 said...

JC, JC... "community pride"??? Exactly what "community" do you share with Barak Obama? Tell me you're not talking about the fact that he is not white? Does it MATTER? "...a NUMBER of policy difference..."? Given the level of scarcity of concrete policy positions Obama has actually taken (if solid positions were oxygen, Obama supporters would suffocate!), where do you find a policy that you AGREE with him on? AGAIN, I don't CARE what ethnicity you are, or Obama is. A good policy is a good policy, and a bad policy is a bad one. John McCain has problems, but while he needs to come back to conservative principles, Obama would have to travel the equivalent of a trip to the moon to even get in the same neighborhood with those principles. It's not about race... it's about liberty and the free markets and defending this country from those who want to destroy it.