Conservatives must remember core principles on race

Once again, race politics has become part of a Virginia campaign.

Earlier this election cycle, candidate for lieutenant governor, Susan Stimpson appeared on The John Fredericks Show where she faced what I can only call an antagonistic interview – at least compared to the love fest that occurred the day before with a different candidate.

I happened to hear both interviews live when they happened just before the Republican Advance in November.

Stimpson faced serious and difficult questioning from Fredericks, some of which was about the GOP and its outreach into minority communities – a valid question given the once-again poor showing of Republicans in the November election. And not an unexpected one, given that Fredericks wrote an op-ed on it here for Bearing Drift.

For conservatives – this question of minority outreach, despite recent setbacks, should be our bread and butter.

Despite recent verbal stumbles, I still maintain that the GOP is the party of Lincoln, the party that ensured the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and a party that has advocated racial equality, particularly on an individual’s merit and capability since its inception – quite the contrary to the divisive and subjugating policies of the Democratic Party (including today).

However, Stimpson, for whatever reason, swung and missed at this fastball down the middle.

Coby Dillard of Virginia Black Conservatives heard it for the first time recently and is incensed. Here’s the quote that bothers Dillard:

Fredericks: Let’s say…you’re campaigning in some of the urban areas. How would you be able to inspire blacks to vote for Susan Stimpson; what would be your message?

Stimpson: Well, that wouldn’t be a set community that I would try to inspire….


That’s a full-fledged, four-alarm gaffe. You can’t sugar coat it. And I won’t. And I am definitely not writing this post as an apology for it.

That said, after some banter and back and forth, I recall Stimpson finally getting around to stating the obvious: that she would campaign for every vote, taking nothing for granted, and work to serve everyone in Virginia equally, working for a prosperous community and a growing economy…or something to that effect.

Of course, when I heard her comments back in November, I was quite aware she already flubbed the question and the interview. But I was less concerned with Stimpson – and I still am. I recall exhaling and wondering why certain Republicans have such a hard time with racial politics when, in reality, it’s so simple from a conservative perspective: we simply believe in the Golden Rule. How hard is it to articulate that?

Dillard, in what is clearly anger, has issued Stimpson an ultimatum:

It’s Wednesday evening. You’ve got until tomorrow at noon before the audio clip starts going out to black newspapers across the state, as well as anyone else who might want a copy.

Because they deserve to hear, in your own words, exactly how you feel…and we, as black conservatives, need to know exactly how you expect us to support you when you make ignorant remarks like this. Based strictly on what was said here, you don’t deserve a benefit of the doubt….but in fairness, I’m going to give you one.

I can understand why Dillard is upset, but I do think he also needs to take a step back and think about the bigger picture.

First of all, he needs to think about who is breaking this story. My understanding is that it has appeared publicly for the first time on the liberal blog, Not Larry Sabato. NLS is the same Web site that broke the story of Allen’s misstep in 2006. NLS loves attempting to portray Republicans as xenophobic bigots and will go to great lengths in his efforts to do so.

Second, Dillard wants blacks to be treated as equals among men – rightfully so. As a conservative I know he believes in distancing ourselves from the politics of division and segregation. However, is getting irate at a conservative who clearly made a gaffe and then further fanning the flames of the story with a public ultimatum going to promote racial equality or continue to divide us?

In the end, this incident is not about Susan Stimpson, Coby Dillard, or anyone else: it’s about conservatives needing to get comfortable talking about race and what’s most important about it: that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, created equal under God.

It’s well past time to stop walking on egg-shells on race and for conservatives to say what they mean, conveying a message of love for your neighbor and a vision where all are treated with dignity and respect, pursuing the dream of prosperity in America.


  • Unedited comments from the interview..

    JF: Republicans in VA are getting annihilated in key urban centers of the state.. Hampton Newport news Richmond, Portsmouth, what would your message be to the African American community if you went to.. let’s say.. your campaigning in urban areas.. how would you be able to inspire Blacks to vote for Susan Stimpson?

    SS: That wouldn’t be a set constituency I would try to inspire. I think that we are all Americans and we all have the same concerns. We want to provide for our families. We want to have jobs. We want to be able to have that American exceptionalism that allows us to have individual liberties to do what we think is best for ourselves and our families. And I think government should be limited and government should get out of the way of families And that means taking money out of their pocket and thinking that the government can make a better decision for us.. and that is not a good direction for our country.

    SS: And I think it is a battle right now for individual liberties and I would appeal to women, I would appeal to minorities, I would appeal to Republicans and Democrats we need to protect our liberties and to push back on all of this government overreach.

    JF: I want to get back to a question I asked and want to follow up on your answer. We talked about Republicans to go in to the Black communities of VA and reach that particular segment of Virginians.. and when I asked that did you basically say that a demographic segment you can’t win and you are going to write them off or did I misinterpret your answer?

    SS: I think that you completely misinterpreted that answer. I think that is a part of the problem of politics today. What in the world are we doing segregating all of these different classes and what your race is and what your sexuality is. I think that we are all Americans here and I think we share common values as Americans not according to what our skin color is so I reject that we are going to be focusing on things like that. And I think it was Jay-Z that made the comment that “government is doing too much” . So I think that community also believes government may be doing too much.

    • Thanks, Turbo! Proves my point that Stimpson did recover and Fredericks was trying to play “gotcha” in this interview.

      • Like you did in this post? Doesn’t Bearing Drift usually leave this kind of junk for Shaun to post?

      • What is unfortunate is that the transcript was not shared and reviewed prior to the reaction that led to the posts earlier today. I reached out to John Fredericks and asked him to reach out to the Stimpson campaign and if I am not mistaken he has made contact with the Stimpson CM Tim Edson who is the former CM for Alan West. Honesty must prevail if we are to come out stronger from Convention regardless of which candidate prevails.

        Thank you for writing this JR. One of your best and clearly fair and balanced.

    • Mikey D.

      James, you do a great job sticking up for Stimpson in these comments. I just wish other Stimpson supporters would see this as giving her a chance instead of assuming it’s an attack.

      People, just because you’re paranoid…

      That said, her answer was a lot less articulate than the transcript and the was, with many pauses and moments where she has to figure out exactly what she just said and how to better respond. Hopefully she’s better on the stump now than she was then or at the debate in Sterling where she ignored the question entirely.

      I also find it odd that she was MUCH better prepared when Fredericks followed up with a question on how she’d inspire young people — which shows where her focus is when appealing to groups.

      In the end, it was absolutely a gaffe and she’ll get destroyed with it in the general.

    • Riley B.

      Excuse me I’m not certain she did recover because she ends the whole conversation stating that Jay-Z said government is doing too much so she believes “that” community believes government is doing too much as well. So any black person that makes one statement speaks for all black people? That’s what you’re saying? Because she heard one rapper say one thing one time they speak for everyone because that’s how simple black people are and they listen to their rappers? I mean everyone knows black people are just of such small intellect that they blindly follow whatever a rapper says and believe it…Just absurdly offensive and even worse than the comment in question. No place for this in our party right now.

  • igraves

    Of course you are worried about Susan Stimpson. Shaun Kenney is obsessed with Susan Stimpson. and it is spreading to everyone at Bearing Drift. you just continue to embarrass yourselves.

    But here is the transcript . JR, if you have integrity, unlike Shaun “raised your property taxes” Kenney you should apologize now. It is clear you are wrong.

    • I heard the interview and said in my post that Fredericks was unfair not only in his line of questioning but how the questions were being asked. That said, as I was driving in my car, when I heard Stimpson give her initial answer, it was a clear poor choice of words. That is, as they say, a gaffe. Please read the post. I think I was very fair here.

      • I will second that JR. Please read the entire post folks and then read the entire transcript.

      • EricMcGrane

        I get where you were going with this, but your post as drafted includes the blockquoted section that is dishonestly abbreviated from the source site. It becomes essentially one more spot where folks only see the snipped audio segment. Propagating the lie, essentially, meaning to or not.

        And as for it being a “gaffe”, you seemed to classify specifically the abbreviated comments as the gaffe, instead of the entire response.

        I think you should at least include a link to the entire audio, detailing the time in the clip when the comments were made. The link to the audio, and the transcript, are all over this site.

        • Because that’s the portion that will be used against Stimpson, and the entire RPV if she’s nominated. The vast majority of African-American voters aren’t going to spend the time to look up the entire transcript after hearing the attack ads. Thus, she initially used a poor choice of words, and it is a gaffe.

    • It’s sad to see this good blog be brought down this way.

  • EricMcGrane

    This is really sad. Although I *did* call it on Facebook about 2 hours ago that this smear would be highlighted on BD in short order. Jim, you are better than this. Drip drip drip….here it comes.

    It wasn’t a “gaffe”. The comments were not as Dillard shared.


    Give me a break.

    • Yes, it’s very disappointing to see Jim do this. Sad to see Bearing Drift become a blog who does this kind of nasty stuff.

  • So glad to hear that Susan doesn’t try to reach people based on their race, but on our common concerns as people in Virginia.

  • Who are you kidding, in order to “portray Republicans as xenophobic bigots” we need to do nothing more than let you speak. The truth will come out eventually.

  • Terrence Boulden

    J.R Thanks for this post, and to highlight the big picture , no this is not about Susan…most folks ignore the big picture and move on with the same old crap which is really not working.

  • igraves

    So let me get this straight. Whenever someone is wildly taken out of context completely changing what they were saying, that is a gaffe? The clip you have literally is edited so it sounds like that is all she said. It’s a transparent hit job.

    Stimpson is basically saying what JR says he wants people to–to stop walking on eggshells and stop playing identity politics, and yet he attacks her anyways.

    • Full disclosure, I am a friend of Sue and a supporter of the Stimpson campaign despite the fact that I was originally a Lingamfelter supporter and donor. Rumors about an allegiance between her and Howell initially kept me from supporting her. After doing my own digging for information about the records of all 7 candidates, the truth began to emerge and I differentiated for myself what was fact and what was crap. Good blog posts and comments all too often get clouded and misinformation gets propagated and that is unfortunate but the upside is that we get an opportunity to ask tough questions that otherwise might not have come to the surface. On this article by JR about Stimpson I find no falsehood, no rumors and no attempt to misrepresent what anyone said on the John Fredericks show. The big picture is coming into focus and come May 19 we will see white smoke coming from the convention hall. We will have a republican ticket. It is my hope that before then we will have vetted every one of the 7 candidates for better or worse and we will come out of convention stronger than our democratic opponents (not enemies). The general election is the big game. The national media will descend on us then but make no mistake, everything we say now, be it fact or fiction, about any candidate we be magnified under a blue lens.

      I pledge to support the republican nominee that comes out of convention whether it is your first-last choice.. or mine. May all of the candidates be fully vetted for the role of LG and may we come out of convention UNIFIED as a reinvigorated party.

  • Pingback: Regarding Ms. Stimpson | Virginia Black Conservatives()

  • From VBC..



    “Last night on Bearing Drift, my friend J.R. asked this question about my post here on Susan Stimpson:

    Is getting irate at a conservative who clearly made a gaffe and then further fanning the flames of the story with a public ultimatum going to promote racial equality or continue to divide us?

    Unfortunately, it not only promotes equality, but makes us stronger as a party…and I’ll explain how.

    For too long, when remarks like these are made-context or no-we as black conservatives are left holding the bag; left to give the explanation to our community of what was actually said and meant. That explanation is often difficult to make, if it’s possible at all. Of all the ethnic conservatives out there, I’d wager that black conservatives are the only ones required to defend our conservatism not just to those within our party, but to our community as well.

    When we show up to talk about the virtues of our candidates, no one wants to talk about that candidate. They want to know why we would support a candidate who doesn’t want to make our people’s lives better; who doesn’t want to inspire our community. Those are sound bites out of context, to be sure…but that’s what we’re left to defend.

    And I think I speak for most of us black conservatives, if not all, when I say that we’re tired of it. Above that, we’re tired of being tired of it.

    So, here we are…at a point where a need arises to publicly call out statements like this, to see if what was said was meant, and if so, how we’re supposed to clean it up; to ask that question directly to those who make them, and not to their supporters. Done with no malice intended, but the hope that-as J.R. also said-conservatives/Republicans get to the point where we’re not afraid to have these discussions, as we’ve been historically.

    Black conservatives owe both our party and our community that. It’s incumbent on us to be the guardians of a community that is too often neglected by our party, and the guardians of a party that is not prepared for the scrutiny they will face in that community. It’s unfortunate that we have to play those roles, but it is necessary.

    Having listened to the entire interview, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

    I don’t think that was a “gotcha” question…in fact, it’s a hard one that all of our candidates-and Republican leadership-need to answer, and definitively. Susan tried…

    …but she gave the same answer everyone else has; there’s nothing different there. That’s just my opinion.

    That said, I take no offense to her entire answer, because she’s not completely wrong. I wish that we were always able to view all Americans as just that-Americans. Unfortunately, the realities of campaigning requires us to not only reach out, but include black Americans, as well as other ethnic groups, in our strategy and policy discussions. That outreach and inclusion requires inspiration from the candidate; a willingness to make people want to support you. So to say “that’s not a constituency I’d try to inspire,” is a horrible way of putting it, but the context provides the explanation.

    This is really no different than Rick Santorum’s “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better”statement, which elicited a similar response from me. Inartful as hell, but with the whole explanation, it makes sense. So, as of this point, I’m not going to continue to hold it against her. But, please, please…work on your answer.

    With that, for me, the issue is closed. I was told I might get an email from Susan today; if so, as I promised, I’ll post it.”

  • Feh… Dillard’s no better when he threatens to run to “black newspapers across the state”. What is a “black newspaper” exactly?

    Let’s get real. That Alexis person hit it perfectly when she said the Republicans are disconnected from the black population because the causes that they advance have negative repercussions in the black community. Voter ID. Drug laws. Sentencing laws.

    The state Republican Convention is going to have the same racial breakdown as Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway’s Sprint Cup race. There’s a reason for that.

    • There’s a sense of desperation here at BD to put out anything they can to knock down Stimpson, no matter how flimsy the pretext. The “slating” attack failed to match up to reality, so this is the follow-up.

      Stimpson is as good a sale to minorities as we have in this LG candidate lineup, other than Jackson. She has it right – black people are the same as any other people, not a plantation voting bloc to be patronizingly courted.

      The right GOP message on race is: “You are equals, you are our brothers and sisters; you are individuals each with his own dreams and desires and opinions. You are not some political cocktail to be brewed up and labeled according to the pigments in your skin, but people, real human beings with as much capacity to love and suffer as anyone else.”

      • Don’t we agree on that last paragraph? As for your first graph, you have no clue what we’re thinking.

        • It’s pretty hard not to get a pretty strong impression that BD is solidly aligned against Stimpson, in terms of what actually gets printed here, and in terms of BD’s group evaluations (ranking Stimpson’s campaign with an apparently-dropped-out candidate when she’s pretty clearly a top candidate).

          The “slating” scandal – wasn’t slating, and was not only within the letter of the rules but also within the spirit. The “inspire” scandal convicts her of the terrible crime of not dividing people by race. The story before that was an anonymously sourced claim that she was collaborating with Stewart. Almost every mention of her here is in a bad light, which is

          Now if this stuff was being printed about every candidate, then there could perhaps be some credible claim to even-handedness. But it’s not about any other candidate. There’s a clear particular interest in bringing Stimpson down.

          I don’t know any other venue that goes under the label “conservative” that singles out the most fiscally conservative candidate in the field for repeated attacks. I don’t think you could name one, either.

          • Fine, just for you, when Stimpson does something awesome, I’ll post it daily. Oh…that’s right, her campaign doesn’t contact us. Guess that makes it a bit difficult to provide her a forum. So, if you have an issue with BD not providing proper coverage, contact her campaign. Only Steve Martin is worse with us for accessibility.

  • Although without Bishop Jackson’s grandiloquence, Stimpson said exactly what EW says on the stump every time: she prefers to think about Americans as Americans, not as hyphenated people.

    And that is wrong how, exactly? Does EW have a race problem too? What about the other candidates? Did you check to see if their positions are materially different? Do they pander rather than take an “all Americans” approach? Instead, you single out Stimpson’s approach as “a full-fledged, four-alarm gaffe,” fully ratifying Ben Tribbett’s twisted attack.

    The manufactured outrage directed at Stimpson is really getting tiresome.

    That said, the remainder of your treatment of the subject is thoughtful and spot-on. So, at least no one will confuse you with Shaun. (Just kidding, Shaun…mostly).

  • louexis

    It is not about how the Republican candidates go about attempting to garner the Black vote. It is about the whole concept of the Republican party in Virginia and the issues they espouse such as Voter photo ID. How could you expect a Black person to vote for a state wide Republican candidate when they want to make it more difficult to vote in the first place

    • Anon

      I’d like to know which Republicans want to make it more difficult for Black people to vote. Is it more difficult for a Black person to get an ID? Are Black people not capable of navigating the DMV? I don’t think so, but I do think there are lots of people who want Black people to believe that. The same people who want Black people to be disarmed so that only police have guns, and who lure Black mothers into ending young Black lives.

      • louexis

        Perception is reality. Please give me one good reason why a Black person would want to vote for Cuccinelli after the way he has acted as Attorney General with regards Black people. Your reply to my comment indicates to me that there is no way that you would vote for Pres Obama so why would you expect a Black person vote for Cuccinelli.

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