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Republicans Plan Outreach to Black Voters in Ohio

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tours the Q during a visit last year in Cleveland. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tours the Q during a visit last year in Cleveland.

by Nick Castele

The Republican National Committee is launching a campaign in Ohio this week to reach African-American voters. The effort focuses on voters in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Republicans have struggled for decades to win large numbers of black voters, especially in presidential contests. And since losing in 2012, Republicans have been talking more about building a bigger GOP tent for a party whose support is often older and whiter than the nation at large.

The campaign starting this week is called #CommittedToCommunity. Key to the effort is Radio One, a major national media network geared toward black audiences.

Over the next several weeks, Republican staff will meet voters and hand out information at Radio One events in Ohio. The RNC also plans to reach voters in churches, and through radio and mobile phone ads.

Orlando Watson is the communications director for black media at the RNC.

"Part of what we’ve found over the past couple of years being present in communities like Cleveland and Columbus and Detroit and Charlotte is that black voters in particular care about jobs, the economy, education and stronger families," Watson said. 

On education, he says the party will emphasize its support for offering options outside of traditional public schooling—like charter schools and vouchers for private schools.

He says the campaign aims to build trust with African-American communities—and to build a network of black voters who might cast their ballots for the GOP in 2016.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.