Race to the Right
Recruiting blacks will force the Christian Coalition to confront the tension between its two goals: to be religious and to control the political agenda.
When the Christian Coalition decided in 1994 to woo black voters, it turned to Hollywood and hired a former Disney marketing executive, Stephan Brown.
Brown's tenure in the job was brief and unsuccessful; within 18 months, he was asked to resign. The problem? Marketing, Brown says. The coalition, usually an eager seeker of publicity, was keeping a remarkably -- and to Brown, foolishly -- low profile on its new endeavor. Coalition leaders refused, for instance, to make hay of the eviction of Alan Keyes, the black Republican presidential candidate, from the March 1996 GOP debates in Atlanta. To Brown, that was a no-brainer. "The PR opportunity that existed there -- to stand up strong for a black man -- was to me irresistible." The coalition recruited blacks, paid their way to its conferences, and welcomed them to its annual get-out-the-vote Road to Victory conferences. But it kept all this activity very quiet.