Black Conservatives: The New Face of the GOP

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WASHINGTON - The midterm congressional elections are seven months away. Republicans are already promising a strong effort to take back the majority and they're attracting candidates who are already making history.

At least 30 African-Americans in 16 states are running for the U.S Senate and the House of Representatives. It's a surge of black Republican activism that America hasn't seen since the Reconstruction era.

Returning to Slavery?

Charles Lollar is one of the candidates. As a major in the Marine Corps Reserves and a businessman, Lollar is taking on the second most powerful Democrat in the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Lollar said that just as he felt drawn to serve his country, he feels called to run against those he says are steering America off track.

"The policies of socialism," he said. "The policies that say government should get involved in competition when that's not the government's role, the policies that extend government and makes it overwhelming with the tax burden where every 38 cents of your dollar goes to state, federal or local government, where you're only getting 62 cents of every dollar you earned --there's something wrong with that."

"If we keep going down the road we're going, financially - I think - it's 53 to 54 cents of every dollar we make with this health care bill intact. We're getting closer and closer to slavery," he said.

Proud of Obama, but…

Lollar said although he's proud of President Obama and thankful for the barriers he's broken for black candidates, he's convinced Obama is leading the country in a dangerous direction.

Still, National Public Radio's Juan Williams' said, "President Obama and the idea that a black man as president, I think, has encouraged lots of black people across the political spectrum because they think 'You know what, you can break through some barriers, you can have success.' Michael Steele, you have a black man as the chairman of the Republican Party."

While Steele is often controversial, conservative Ron Miller, who is executive director of Regular Folks United, says Steele is making an impact on the black community.

"I think that his presence has encouraged people, it has emboldened people and I just hope that continues on," Miller said.

GOP a 'Natural Fit for Blacks'

Actor and author Joseph C. Phillips believes the Republican Party has always been a natural fit for the black community. Conservative principles, he points out, were the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement.

"Who is a more idealistic people, American people, than black people in America?" Phillips asked. "We truly, truly believe in the ideas articulated in the Declaration of Independence: equality under the law and a limited government that secures equal rights to life, liberty and property."

Phillips recently spoke to CBN News about his book entitled "He Talk Like a White Boy." Click here to watch the interview.

African-Americans are church goers. And on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, blacks tend to be more conservative.

"I always tell my mother when she asked me why am I a Republican, 'It's because you raised me that way,'" Miller said. "When I got old enough to make my own decisions, I started comparing what I believed to the Democratic Party platform and I saw no alignment whatsoever."

A Lonely Existence

However, life as a black conservative can be lonely. Candidates still face pockets of racism among whites and those who associate with the Tea Party movement face criticism from liberals.

Lollar has even been called a racist.

"It's actually kind of funny when you think about it," Lollar said. "I use the one liner in my speeches, 'How can I be a racist? My wife is black.'"

Republican leaders know they have a problem attracting minorities, something they're focused on changing.

"In my judgment there may be no higher priority for Republicans in the 21st century then to return to that Abraham Lincoln, Jack Kemp vision that at the very center of everything we are as Republicans is the principle of equality of opportunity," House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence told CBN News.

A Black GOP Revolution?

Ken Blackwell, senior fellow with the Family Research Council and former candidate for RNC chairman, argues the GOP should widen its tent, but not at the expense of its principles.

"We are the party of job creation and opportunity and we believe in a meritorious society where individuals deserve a place at the starting line with no guarantees of how they're going to finish the race," he said.

Lollar predicts Americans will notice more black conservatives running for public offices on all levels in the coming years.

"It's time for us to reach across aisles," he said. "Be uncomfortable and reach across race lines. It's time for us to rebuild our country from the inside back out."

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.