In March of 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama gave a widely-praised speech calling for a national conversation on race. A little more than two years later, that conversation had only gotten "dumber," Politico's Ben Smith wrote, with Fox News constantly airing images of "new Black Panthers" and MSNBC hunting for racists in the Tea Party. But now it seems the Republican presidential field is ready to renew that dialogue. Newt Gingrich told Maryland Republicans Thursday night that, "No administration in modern times has failed younger blacks more than the Obama administration." But the Republican candidates are still finding their footing when it comes to race, occasionally saying something kind of... weird. Gingrich noted, "I will bet you there is not a single precinct in this state in which the majority will pick for their children food stamps over paychecks." Was there ever any doubt of that?
Gingrich--who has a long history of talking about racial issues--has called Obama the "food stamp president" (he would be the "paycheck president"). But he isn't the only 2012 contender to say it's time to go after the black vote. At the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans last weekend, Michele Bachmann pointed to high unemployment rates among blacks and Latinos and said, "This president has failed the Hispanic community. He has failed the African-American community." Bachmann managed to avoid sounding tone deaf, unlike some of her 2012 rivals.