Gwen Ifill Sees No 'Breakthrough' Republican Candidates

The GOP 'seem to have gone backwards.'

Last night, the Center for American Progress hosted a discussion between PBS’s Gwen Ifill and CAP President John Podesta about Ifill’s new book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” After the event, Ifill sat down for an interview with ThinkProgress, where we asked her about the Republican party’s efforts to reach out to African-American voters.

During her talk with Podesta, Ifill said that she didn’t believe that RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s race was the motivating factor behind why Republicans elected him. In the interview, Ifill said that “they weren’t so caught up with the idea of Barack Obama being black that they were going to sacrifice their need to come back just to elect a black guy.”

“They needed someone that could articulate what the Republican brand still is,” said Ifill. “And he did that better than the other guys running for office.” Asked if she saw any “breakthrough” candidates in the Republican party, Ifill responded bluntly, “not yet”:

IFILL: In fact, we seem to have gone backwards. I mean, we used to have J.C. Watts in the House, but now there are no black Republicans in Congress. At all. That’s a step back. In order to change that direction, there has to be recruiting going on. I think there is recruiting going on at some lower levels, but they’ve got some ground to make up.

Matt Corley is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and at the Center for American Progress.
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