Ellen Carmichael on GOP minority outreach: 'We're getting it more than we did'

Story highlights

  • Ellen Carmichael is a GOP strategist who worked for Herman Cain and Tom Price
  • She highlighted Ron Johnson's success with reaching out to minorities

(CNN)President of The Lafayette Company and GOP strategist Ellen Carmichael said Republicans' efforts to reach out to minority voters and impoverished Americans can at times be frustrating but that she sees reasons for optimism in her party's rising stars who "really get it."

"I think we're getting it more than we did in the past," Carmichael told CNN's "Party People" podcast hosts Kevin Madden in a recent conversation, and cited Rep. Todd Young and Sen. Marco Rubio as two elected officials who successfully reached out to marginalized groups and won in November's elections.
Another success story she sees: Sen. Ron Johnson, who was re-elected last month for his US Senate seat in Wisconsin.
    "This one is a little bit of a surprise to people, Sen. Ron Johnson is absolutely incredible on this," Carmichael said, citing his work at his personal charity the Joseph Project, which focuses on job placement and fighting poverty.
    Carmichael, who worked for 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, also encouraged Republicans not to learn the "lessons incorrectly learned" from the most recent election cycle and ignore minority voters. President-elect Donald Trump was credited in part for capitalizing on energized white voters to propel him to White House.
    Carmichael said Republicans who dismiss non-white voters are missing out on key support.
    "Look at what Paul Ryan has been able to do," she said. "There are former Bloods and Crips in Dallas who would fight tooth and nail for Paul Ryan to be president of this country, and that's because he shows up."
    Carmichael was specifically referencing Antong Lucky, a former Crips leader turned social activist, whose work in Dallas coordinated with promoting the US House Speaker's anti-poverty proposal "A Better Way," and was documented in the Opportunity Lives mini-series "Comeback."
    Carmichael encouraged Republicans to advertise in publications that target minorities and spend significant time in those communities, even if they face criticism from liberals or Democrats for pandering to those groups.
    "People might roll their eyes or scoff when Republicans make earnest attempts at outreach in these groups, but it shouldn't stop us from doing it," Carmichael said. "Because those people -- they're smart -- they can tell the difference and insinuating they can't is kind of racist in a way."
    To hear Carmichael talk about her former boss Rep. Tom Price who was just nominated to be President-elect Donald Trump's Health and Human Services secretary, listen to CNN's "Party People" podcast.
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