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Black Republicans feeling twinges of Obamamania

04:58 PM CST on Tuesday, February 26, 2008



Calvin Stephens is conflicted about the presidential election.

If ever there was a time for him to commit “political suicide,” he said, this would be the year.

Why? Because he admires Barack Obama. So does his wife, his four kids and many of his friends.

The problem is that Mr. Stephens isn’t a run-of-the-mill voter or causal observer: As chairman of the African-American Leadership Council of the Dallas County Republican Party, he’s charged with luring more black voters into the GOP’s fold.

“And I love being in this position,” he quickly noted.

Until recently, that is.

Now the black businessman, whose roots run 35 years deep in the Republican Party, is swooning over his rival party’s sweet-talking front-runner, Mr. Obama.

“If I wanted to commit political suicide and say I’d vote for a Democrat, he’d be the one to make me do it,” Mr. Stephens said.

While he may not see eye to eye with Mr. Obama on some policy issues, Mr. Stephens said, he likes the way Mr. Obama carries himself and the growing idealism that the Illinois lawmaker is spreading.

“This whole [Hillary] Clinton vs. Obama phenomenon has … energized a lot of young people, especially young African-Americans,” said Mr. Stephens. “That will change the political landscape for years to come.”

Which means Mr. Stephens has his work cut out for him in terms of getting young black voters to join the GOP, or getting older ones to switch.


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