The Republican Party’s campaign to attract more Black and brown voters suffered another setback when the Iowa Republican Black & Brown Presidential Forum was cancelled. The forum, which serves as a platform for Blacks and Latinos to discuss issues affecting their communities with Republican candidates, was postponed due to “unresolved scheduling conflicts,” according to a news release.
According to The Gazette, this would have been the first time Republican candidates participated in the forum which was established in 1984.
The Des Moines Register reported that a forum featuring Democratic candidates is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Drake University. The forum will feature former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley who will discuss education, immigration and criminal justice issues.
Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Dr. Andy McGuire said the Republican presidential candidates missed an opportunity to learn about issues concerning minority voters.
“It is disappointing that Republican voters in Iowa will be unable to see their candidates talk about issues important to minority communities,” said McGuire in a statement. “Iowa Democrats are proud to continue our long tradition of participating in the historic Black and Brown Forum. We believe that Iowa is stronger when all of our families can access the ladders of opportunity, and we look forward to hearing our candidates address the challenges that African Americans and Latinos face in Iowa and across the nation.”
Joe Enriquez Henry, national vice president of the Midwest for the League of United Latin American Citizens, said the Latino community felt disrespected by the decision to postpone the forum.
“Once again we are being shown that our community’s concerns are not important to members of the Republican Party,” said Henry in a statement. “At a time when we are mobilizing our people to participate on caucus night and Republicans will want our support, they still have not stepped forward to engage with our people.”
However, organizers of the event said they were confident the forum would eventually be held.
“As a non-partisan organization, the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum looks forward to the possibility of working with the Republican Party in the future,” said Brianne Pins, a spokesperson for the event’s co-founders and co-chairs.
The Republican Party has traditionally not been popular with Black and Latino voters. About 93 percent of Black voters supported President Barack Obama in 2012 and the majority of Black voters also supported Democratic presidential candidates in recent elections. Seventy-one percent of Latino voters, who are the fastest-growing voting demographic, supported Obama in 2012. Political analysts say it is impossible to win the White House without Latino voters, who make up 10 percent of the electorate.
However, the Republican presidential primary is being lead by billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who has made statements demonizing Mexican immigrants. Trump, who has also been critical of Muslims, recently offended the Black community by retweeting an incorrect statistic that stated the majority of white murder victims are killed by Black people. A Black Lives Matter activist was recently attacked by Trump supporters after trying to disrupt a campaign rally in Birmingham, Ala.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Mercutio Southall Jr. said he was called a monkey and the n-word while being punched and kicked. Trump later responded to the assault by saying, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”