(Photo: REUTERS/Scott Audette)
Republican National Convention (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus joined some influential black voters and community leaders at the Christian Cultural Center megachurch in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Monday to learn how the Republican Party can win their trust and perhaps even their vote the next time around.
The session, which one party official said "went really well," forms part of what Priebus told reporters is the GOP's most recent push to create a "national effort, in a granular community way, in building up both the brand of the Republican Party and making us more successful in the ballot box." The meeting comes just ahead of the release of an official post-mortem report on the GOP's performance in the 2012 presidential elections slated for next Monday, March 18.
New York State GOP chairman, Ed Cox, who attended the closed-door meeting, told The Christian Post in an interview on Wednesday that about 20 prominent black Republicans and community leaders joined Priebus at the sprawling 37,000-member church headed by Pastor A.R. Bernard.
Among those in attendance, according to one news report, were The Wire actor, Jamie Hector; former New York Jets running back, Curtis Martin; investment banker, Kendrick Ashton; and North Carolina Republican, national committeewoman Ada Fisher.
"[They] expressed their opinions and views. They all spoke in a heartfelt way about the traditions of the Republican Party," said Cox.
He pointed out that Pastor Bernard and others at the meeting agreed on what they felt were the major concerns in the African-American community and highlighted the need to not only articulate to the black community that they are a party of inclusion but wanted to make sure that they had the right messenger as well.
"They (Bernard and Priebus) understand that the most important issues to the black community…are issues about jobs and the economy and equal opportunity," said Cox. "…What chairman Priebus has been doing is taking this chairmanship on what he calls a very inclusive growth and opportunity and on those terms reaching out to all the ethnic communities that make up America."
When asked about how the meeting went, Cox noted, "The meeting went very, very well. You have two individuals here who are both great leaders at the same time humble men. While one is a spiritual leader and the other is a political leader. They are both spiritual individuals who believe in their principles."
As he reportedly noted at the meeting on Monday, Cox highlighted the GOPs strong history promoting civil rights in an attempt to debunk the racist, elitist stereotype of the Republican Party that pervades parts of America.
According to a report in The Daily Beast, "Priebus acknowledged the GOP's failure to build relationships with minority voters in the past and said changing the demographics of a party that, for decades, has been largely white, would take some time and a lot of work."
Pastor Bernard, a Republican who was said to be mulling a run for Mayor of New York City, also told the New York Daily News that he was no longer actively seeking the position.
"I am stepping back in order to consider national issues, and unless there is a compelling reason -- and I can't state what that may be -- for me get into the mayoral race for New York City, I am going to continue to focus on a national platform," he told the News.