Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

In Perspective: What Susan Stimpson said about reaching out to minorities

Susan Stimpson, chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
Susan Stimpson, chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Back on Dec. 5, Susan Stimpson, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, talked to John Fredericks on his radio show. Three months later, a sentence in one of her comments is being bandied by a few state blogs as evidence that Stimpson disregards minority voters.

It started March 12 when the liberal blog, Not Larry Sabato, invited readers to listen to Stimpson’s "minority outreach plan." A hyperlink connects to Fredericks asking Stimpson how she would "inspire blacks" to vote for her.

"Well, that would not be a set or constituency that I would try to inspire," Stimpson responds. There’s nothing else on the hyperlinked recording.

Citing that snippet, Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra criticized Stimpson on May 13. "We need leaders who will inspire all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they live," he wrote on his campaign website. "... It’s unfortunate to see anyone seeking public office in the Commonwealth believe otherwise."

We wondered if there was more to Stimpson's comment and listened to an 18-minute tape of the interview that Fredericks' show posted on YouTube. But it became apparent that this version, too, excluded Stimson's full remarks. Stimpson's campaign confirmed that and supplied us with its recording of the interview. Let’s look at the statement, in full.

Fredericks: Now, Republicans in Virginia are also getting annihilated in the key urban centers of the state:Hampton, Newport News, Richmond, Portsmouth. What would your message be to the African-American community? Like if you went to, 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 constituency that I would try to inspire. I think that we, um, we are, we’re all Americans here and we all have the same concerns. We want to be able to provide for our family, we want to have jobs, we want to be able to just have that American exceptionalism that allows us to have these individual liberty -- liberties -- to do what we think is best for ourselves and for our family.

And I really think that that’s what’s at stake right now -- that government should be limited. That we should get out of the way of families and that means taking money out of their pockets and thinking that the government can make a better decision for -- for us. That is not a good direction for our country and I think that it’s really a battle right now for individual liberties. So I would appeal to women, I would appeal to minorities, I would appeal to Republicans and Democrats that, basically, we just need to protect our liberty and to push back on all of this government overreach.

Then, Fredericks asks Stimson how she would try to appeal to college students. The YouTube version then jumps to a final question. But the full recording from the campaign includes a follow-up question by Fredericks asking Stimpson to clarify her statement on minority outreach.

Fredericks: Susan, if I may, I want to get back to a question I asked and get a follow-up on your answer. We talked, you know, about the need to – for Republicans to be able to go into the black communities of Virginia and reach that particular segment of Virginians and when I asked that, I just want to be sure – did you say that basically that’s a demographic segment you can’t win and you’re going to fight them off or did I misinterpret that answer?

Stimpson: I think that you completely misinterpreted that answer. I think that’s part of the problem with 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, you know, that we are all Americans here and so I think that we share common values as Americans, not according to what our skin color is. So I just – I reject that – that we are going to be focusing on things like that. And I think even, it was Jay-Z made the comment that he thinks government is doing too much, so I think that that community also believes that government may be doing too much.