"The problem is that within the operations of the RNC, they don't give a damn. It's all about outreach ... and outreach means let's throw a cocktail party, find some black folks and Hispanics and women, wrap our arms around them - 'See, look at us,' " he said.
"And then we go back to same old, same old. There's nothing that is driven down to the state party level, where state chairmen across the country, to the extent they don't appreciate it, are helped to appreciate the importance of African-Americans and women and others coming and being a part of this party, and to the extent that they do appreciate it, are given support and backup to generate their own programs to create this relationship."
"Outreach is a cocktail party. Coalitions ... a relationship. I'm going to look you in the eye. I'm going to be at your table. I'm going to sit and talk to you," said Mr. Steele, who has for the last two years been the chairman of GOPAC, a Republican political action committee.
Bingo. As I observed upon the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's VP nominee, Republicans really seem to think that the only thing women or minorities care about is the face -- they blindly will follow their race or gender cohorts, and nothing else needs to be said. Steele, at least, is fighting back against this notion: he gets that if the GOP is going to make any true inroads with female and minority voters, they need to have a seat at the table, where their problems will be discussed fairly and real solutions will be offered.
There's a valid question as to how RNC selection committee will respond to this sort of rhetoric of course. It's not clear that they really want Blacks and women to have more voice at the table, if their voices will threaten policy or philosophical positions dear to the Party core (they might think that, but assume they can reign Steele in and make it so his changes are cosmetic, at best). And aside from the racial angles, Steele is definitely a relatively moderate candidate to be running, which is a major barrier in a Party that looks poised to make another rightward lurch. Of course, a Steele victory would signal a check on that instinct, which would certainly be positive.
But back to Steele's efforts to bring Blacks and other non-traditional GOP voters into the fold. Again, I'm not saying he'll be successful in his endeavor, even if he reaches out in good faith with full party backing. While a significant part of Black loyalty to the Democratic Party is based off the notion that the GOP is facially inhospitable to them, it's not ridiculous to think that Blacks actually have considered and agree with the Democratic Party when casting their ballots. But I think it's better, all things considered, for Blacks to be voting Democratic because they agree with Democrats, not because they consider the Republican Party to be a racist outpost.