Diverse Republican presidential Primary field sees an opening in 2024 with voters of color

francis suarez ap
This year's GOP presidential Primary field is the most diverse ever.

During Donald Trump’s first visit as president to Chicago, a frequent target in his attacks on urban violence, he disparaged the nation’s third largest city as a haven for criminals and a national embarrassment.

At a recent town hall, Republican presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy sat alongside ex-convicts on the city’s South Side and promised to defend Trump’s “America First” agenda. In return, the little-known White House hopeful, a child of Indian immigrants, found a flicker of acceptance in a room full of Black and brown voters.

The audience nodded when Ramaswamy said that “anti-Black racism is on the rise,” even if they took issue with his promise to eliminate affirmative action and fight “woke” policies.

“Yes, we criticize the Democratic Party, and for good reason, for talking a big game about helping Black Americans without doing very much to actually show up and help on the ground,” he said later. “But we on our side also talk a big game about America First without actually bringing all of America along with us.”

Race has emerged as a central issue — and a delicate one — in the 2024 presidential contest as the GOP’s primary field so far features four candidates of color, making it among the most racially diverse ever.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the first Black senator in the South since Reconstruction, entered the contest earlier in the month. He joined Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador who is of Indian descent, and Larry Elder, an African American raised in Los Angeles’ South Central neighborhood who came to national attention as a candidate in the failed effort two years ago to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is of Cuban descent, says he may enter the race in the coming days.

Most of the candidates of color are considered underdogs in a field currently dominated by Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Yet the party’s increasingly diverse leadership, backed by evolving politics on issues such as immigration, suggest the GOP may have a real opportunity in 2024 to further weaken the Democrats’ grip on African Americans and Latinos. Those groups have been among the most loyal segments of the Democratic coalition since Republican leaders fought against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Republican presidential contenders of 2024 walk a fine line when addressing race with the GOP’s overwhelmingly white primary electorate.

In most cases, the diverse candidates in the Republican field play down the significance of their racial heritage. They all deny the existence of systemic racism in the United States even while discussing their own personal experience with racial discrimination. They oppose policies around policingvoting rights and education that are specifically designed to benefit disadvantaged communities and combat structural racism.

The NAACP recently issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida under DeSantis’ leadership, warning of open hostility “toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.” The notice calls out new policies enacted by the Governor that include blocking public schools from teaching students about systemic racism and defunding programs aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Republican presidential candidates of color largely support DeSantis’ positions.

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said the GOP’s policies are far more important than the racial and ethnic diversity of their presidential candidates. He noted there also were four Republican candidates of color in 2016, the year Trump won the White House after exploiting tensions over race and immigration.

“White nationalists, insurrectionists and white supremacists seem to find comfort in the (Republican) Party,” Morial said. “I think we’re beyond the politics of just the face of a person of color by itself appealing to people of color. What do you stand for?”

With few exceptions, the Republican candidates who have entered the presidential primary field have embraced the GOP’s “anti-woke” agenda, which is based on the notion that policies designed to address systemic inequities related to race, gender or sexuality are inherently unfair or even dangerous.

DeSantis this past week described such policies as “cultural Marxism.”

Still, the GOP’s diverse field is not ignoring race. Indeed, some candidates are making their race a central theme in their appeal to Republican primary voters even as they deny that people of color face systemic challenges.

Scott insisted that America is not a racist country in his recent announcement speech.

“We are not defined by the color of our skin. We are defined by the content of our character. And if anyone tells you anything different, they’re lying,” he said.

In her announcement video, Haley noted that she was raised in a small town in South Carolina as “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants — not black, not white, I was different.” Like Scott, she has defended the GOP against charges of racism.

“Some think our ideas are not just wrong, but racist and evil,” Haley said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Elder is quick to criticize the Democrats’ “woke” agenda, Black Lives Matter and the notion of systemic racism.

Critics say such messages are actually designed to win over suburban white voters more than to attract voters of color. But on the South Side of Chicago on a recent Friday afternoon, there were signs that some Black voters were open to the GOP’s new messengers, given their frustration with both political parties.

One attendee at Ramaswamy’s town hall waved a flyer for a “Biden boycott” because the Democratic president has not signaled whether he supports reparations for the descendants of slaves, although Joe Biden did back a congressional effort to study the issue. None of the GOP’s presidential candidates supports reparations, either.

Others condemned Democrats, in Chicago and in Washington, for working harder to help immigrants who are in the country illegally than struggling African American citizens.

Federal officials were preparing to relocate hundreds of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to the South Side, even as many local residents struggled with violence and difficult economic conditions.

“It is certainly true that there are multiple shades of melanin in this Republican race,” Ramaswamy said in an interview before the event. “I think that in some ways dispels the myth that much of the left will perpetuate that this is somehow you know, a racist party or whatever drivel.”

He added: “But personally, I could care less what someone’s skin color is. I think what matters is, what are they going to accomplish? What’s their vision?”

As of now, the GOP does not have any Hispanic candidates in the 2024 contest. But Suarez, the Miami mayor, said he may change that in the coming days.

“I think it’s important the field does have candidates that can connect with and motivate Hispanics to continue a trend that’s already happening,” he said in an interview, noting that he’s “very strongly” considering a White House bid. “Democrats have failed miserably to connect with Hispanics.”

A majority of Latino voters supported Biden in the 2020 presidential contest, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive national survey of the electorate. But Trump cut into that support in some competitive states, including Florida and Nevada, revealing important shifts among Latinos from many different cultural backgrounds.

In last fall’s midterm elections, support grew for Republican candidates among Black voters, although they remained overwhelmingly supportive of Democrats, AP Votecast found. Overall, Republican candidates were backed by 14% of Black voters, compared with 8% in the midterm elections four years earlier.

While the shifts may be relatively small, strategists in both parties acknowledge that any shift is significant given how close some elections may be in 2024.

In Chicago, Tyrone Muhammad, who leads Ex-Cons for Social Change, lashed out at Republicans for being “losers” for not seizing a very real opportunity to win over more African Americans. While sitting next to Ramaswamy on stage, he also declared that the Republican Party is racist.

Later, he said he actually voted for Trump in 2020 because Trump enacted a criminal justice bill that aimed to shorten prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and address racial inequalities in the justice system. While the GOP has since embraced tough-on-crime rhetoric, Muhammed noted that Biden as a senator helped pass the 1994 crime bill that led to the mass incarceration of Black people.

Muhammad said he might vote Republican again in 2024, despite the party’s shortcomings. He pointed to the GOP’s fight against illegal immigration as a core reason for support.

“I may not like you as an individual, but I like your issues, I like your policies,” he said.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Earl Pitts American

    May 28, 2023 at 8:03 pm

    Oh darn America,
    I, Earl Pitts American, thought the title to this article was interesting so I, Earl Pitts American, clicked on it.
    Just imagine my, Earl Pitts American’s, disapointment when I, Earl Pitts American, saw it was nothing but yet another A. P. piece of dook 4 brains leftist propagande.
    Did I read it?
    Oh #ell no America. Theres exactly ZERO upside to reading any A. P. dook 4 brains leftest propaganda.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts “Most Loved Most Hated” American

    • Elliott Offen

      May 28, 2023 at 10:37 pm

      Get out of here you whack off
      Get out of here you jack off
      Get out of here you smack off
      Get out of here you crack head
      Get out of here you smack head

      • Jeff Curro calling in

        May 29, 2023 at 3:57 am

        Oh bless your parochial Christian heart, Idiot Often.

        So clever to use the nom de guerre of a Howard Stern Show Wack Packer, the least clever of them, naturally. Why not Hank letting us know about the Floridiot running your hamlet? Or Nicole Bass? You let us down.

        • Amelie

          May 29, 2023 at 6:06 am

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        • Elliott Offen

          May 29, 2023 at 8:29 am

          @Jeff Curro: How did we get on the subject of religion? Why bring religion into this? How whacko is that and yet you also bring the “whack pack” into this? You’re nuts buddy. Seek medication for magical thinking and schizophrenia you whacko. Standing up for a mentally disordered clown like Earl. The Marxist hoards will put you in your place. Make your life a living hell! Make you want to kill yourself before it’s all though. Go hide in your closet and swing incense around, bob your head, lose your fking mind!!!

          • Earl Pitts American

            May 29, 2023 at 10:14 am

            My man Smelliott,
            You are such a great employee. Congrats in going above and beyond with your wacky off the chain “fake'” leftist commentary all cleverly designed to make me, Earl Pitts American” look even more genuine, more correct, more golden and rightous and dare I say more Genious, to the vast world wide readership here at F. P.
            ***note of interest: it has been confirmed The Earl Pitts American Fan Club has gone above and beyond “International” ladies and gents we just went “Universal” by signing up a conservative member on the Space Station.
            “Space The Final Frontier” these are the voyages of The StarShip “Earl Pitts American Fan Club” Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before.
            Thank you Smelliott and Thank you America and Thank you Patriots and Freedom Lovers Universally,
            *****Queue Extreemly LOUD Patriotic Music, Crank The Knob All The Way LOUD – And Rip The Knob Off (to futher annoy all dook 4 brains lefiists) And As A Happy Memorial Day Weekend Gesture To The Earl Pitts American Fan Club Member On The Space Station*****
            Earl Pitts”The Big Voice On The Right” American

          • Sunday Is Gunday at Qurch!

            May 29, 2023 at 11:21 am

            Christianity is Republican is White is 96% of the prison system. It’s all the same word to us Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc. Christina’s ARE crime!

            Every Nazi, every Klansman, every Proud Boi.

    • Earl Pitts is a Pedophile

      May 30, 2023 at 2:48 pm

      Earl Pitts is a Convicted Pedo. He belongs in prison or on Florida’s death row now that DeSantis signed a law that allows the death penalty for groomers.

      Designation:S exual Offender
      Name: EARL W PITTS III
      Status:R eleased – Subject to Registration
      Dept of Corrections #:V38476

      Lewd, Lascivious batt sex w/victim 12-15 years old; F.S. 800.04(4)(a)

  • Christians Are Homogenous

    May 28, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    Republicans are soooo diverse this year; Christian homophobes AND Christian racists AND Christian misogynists, so very diverse!

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 29, 2023 at 8:20 am

      Don’t forget the Christian Terrorists live among us. AR15 sleeper cells waiting for Jesus to tell them to murder more school children in yet another Florida school. But Ron DeSantis does nothing except say “looky over here, it’s DRAG QUEENS that are a danger to your children.” I will believe him when a drag queen shows up at a school with an AR 15 and kills a bunch of kids. And then another one and another one and another one and another one. At that point I’ll consider accepting the Ron DeSantis theory, “It’s not the guns. It’s the drag queens.”

  • PeterH

    May 28, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    It’s true ….. the Republican Presidential candidates are from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

    That’s where the diversity ENDS!

    The candidates all think the same and offer identical wrong policies to advance America.

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 29, 2023 at 8:27 am

    With the top dog and the bottom dog of the viable GOP primary field both saying they’ll let the J6 convicts out of prison on Day One, the GOP can kiss minority votes goodbye.

    Everybody knows J6 was just white people angry about their still being white in a world that left them behind.

    Letting white psychos out of prison, not a good campaign promise for attracting anybody except the white psycho voters known as “still MAGAs.”

Comments are closed.


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