Are Republican Candidates Waging an Us-Versus-Them Campaign to Win the Presidential Race?

Republican candidates have been pitting voters against one another, but it’s easier to see when you’re right in the middle of it. Ohio Early Voting began on February 7. Republican candidates are wooing Ohio voters; but long before Newt, Mitt and Rick reached the Buckeye State, they began making black-versus-white and poor-versus-middle class pitches across the country. They’ve spun questionable Welfare, Food Stamp, and “really poor people” theories that intentionally lump all black citizens into an us-versus-them scenario.

Republicans have cleaned up their rhetoric a little bit. Unfortunately their misinformation and stereotypes preceded them as they hit the campaign trail in the Greater Cincinnati area. They’ve not actually campaigned in the heart of the city. Could it be because that’s where lots of black people and other minorities live? That demographic fades as candidates venture to the city limits and beyond, which just happens to be where Newt, Mitt and Rick are waging their war to take the Ohio battleground.

Newt Gingrich in West Price Hill

Newt came to Cincinnati on February 7, the first day of Early Voting. He’d found his momentum by preaching ill conceived poverty fixes: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them that work.” His suggestion, put really poor kids to work as assistant janitors. His visit to Cincinnati’s West Price Hill neighborhood put him in no danger of encountering the “really poor” who might have destroyed his “habits of working” stereotype. According to the 2010 city census, of West Price Hill’s 17,115 residents only 1,891 are non white. The few minorities in the crowd during his rally were taking photos and carrying Ron Paul signs.

Rick Santorum in Warren and Brown counties

Rick Santorum paved his way to Ohio with blanket statements such as, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money…..” He was clearly talking about Welfare but insisted he’d said “blah people.” Whomever he was describing, he didn’t talk to them when he came to Greater Cincinnati on February 17. Rick made stops in nearby Warren County (9.5% non white per the 2010 census) and Brown County ( 2.5 non-white.)

Mitt Romney in Newtown

On Monday February 20, Mitt Romney mingled with a few of Cincinnati’s average Joes, but he did it at Meridian Bioscience in the Village of Newtown (6.5% non-white). Later he actually visited Downtown Cincinnati for a fund raising event at the Great American Tower. Outside, the Service Employees International Union staged a “Not My President” protest; but inside Mitt hung out with supporters who could afford to pay $2500 for the privilege.

Do they really not care?

Last year Ohio’s Republican majority legislature redrew the state voting districts, as did a number of other states. They created districts more favorable to Republicans and more easily won. Republican candidates may not need Ohio’s minority votes so they’re not trying to get them. Could their strategy be as simple as that?

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