Christie, Paul, Ryan, reach out to black voters

President Obama and voters cast ballots in 2012. For years, Republican candidates have been getting crushed by Democrats in the race for black votes. As the party gears up for 2016, it?s something the GOP is eager to change?but it won?t be easy.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie recently delivered the keynote address at an annual New Jersey NAACP conference for the first time in five years. The potential presidential contender portrayed himself as a governor who has tried to seek middle ground, even as he?s butted heads with black leaders on several issues, including education, policing and the appointment of African-American judges.

His remarks ? during which at least two NAACP presidents of two city chapters walked out ? come as other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates are also trying to make inroads with African-American voters, who tend to vote Democratic and twice came out in force for Barack Obama.

Last Friday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called the GOP?s failure to reach out to blacks the biggest mistake it?s made in recent decades.? He did so after meeting with civil rights leaders in Ferguson, Missouri ahead of a new wave of protests following the police killing of an unarmed black teen in August. And Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has also visited a slew of urban neighborhoods in the past year-and-a-half, releasing an anti-poverty plan over the summer. Both Paul and Ryan have been discussed as potential 2016 contenders.

The Republican National Committee has, after all, made it clear that it needs to do a better job reaching out to minorities, particularly African Americans. Since 2013, the RNC has spent millions of dollars in minority outreach efforts (even setting up an ?African American Engagement Office? in Detroit). Chairman Reince Priebus has said he hopes the party will score a double-digit percentage of the black vote in 2016.

In 2012, President Obama won 93% of the black vote. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that in that year for the first time, African-American voters cast ballots at a higher rate than whites.

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