Oklahoma state Rep. T.W. Shannon, a Republican candidate to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, believes that African-American voters are increasingly ready to vote for his party, describing that community as "fertile ground" for a conservative message.
Shannon, who is black and Native American, said he can "move the needle" in terms of convincing voters in those communities to support Republicans.
"I think those two groups have seen better than anybody what the onslaught of government dependency does and how it robs you of your dignity," Shannon told the Washington Examiner. "I think those groups are the most fertile ground for going in and explaining how conservative values actually are what lead to prosperity. The problem is, we've had the wrong messengers doing that."
That might be a shot at Mitt Romney, given Shannon's ensuing emphasis on having a "common guy" lead that effort.
"The message is that conservative principles are what actually lead to prosperity and we people that can articulate how that's been done, how they've seen it in their own lives, how they've experienced it in their own lives," Shannon said. "I think I can definitely move the needle on it because, I think, having the ability to connect with people is a gift, right? It's not just about your experiences or just how articulate you are. It's about being able to relate to the common guy, and I am the common guy."
Shannon was a member of the host committee for a Republican National Committee event in Washington honoring black Republican "trailblazers" last month. Two of the honorees told the Washington Examiner that Republicans would struggle to appeal to black Americans unless they get behind Obamacare. Shannon, who was not present for the event, said that is "absolutely not" true, noting that he carried the African-American vote in his state House district.
"I didn't do it by promising more government expansion, I didn't do it by promising to expand the footprint of government," he told the Examiner.
"Quite the opposite. I ran as a conservative and told them I believe in less government, I believe in traditional values, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that's how I got that vote just like all the other votes that I got, because I ran as who I am. So, this idea that we have to somehow forget our values or somehow move away from them in order to reach out — I disagree with that, especially within the African-American community."