House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), arrives at the podium on the main… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
TAMPA, Fla. -- As delegates arrived for the start of the Republican National Convention, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged that his party has not been a draw for minority voters -- a situation he said the sluggish economy may help remedy.
"We've never done well with those groups," Boehner said, speaking frankly during an interview with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
"But think about who this economic downturn has affected the most -- blacks, Hispanics, young people," Boehner said. "Our economic message in this election cycle will help us recruit more of those groups than we would have."
In fact, there are two African Americans in the GOP in the House -- both elected in the tea party wave of 2010, and the first blacks in the conference in nearly a decade. There are no black Republicans in the Senate.
A poll out last week showed the dismal state of black support for Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP nominee, putting backing among African American voters at 0%.
Boehner and GOP leaders have been increasingly optimistic about their party's chances not only to retain the majority in the House, but to expand their ranks.
They are trying to turn voter attention back to the issues of jobs and the economy, where they see the clearest route to electoral wins.
Officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee said Monday they expected to net four to eight new House seats in November -- a outcome different from that sought by Democrats under Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who are aiming in their "drive for 25" campaign to regain majority control.
To win over minority voters, Boehner said his party needs to do a better job.
"We've got to reach out," he said, "and that means showing up in their neighborhoods."
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