A nonprofit launching this week aims to get more conservative minority staffers on the Hill and to help them climb the ladder once they've arrived.
Pictured: Watts also plans to host a series of forums on issues that affect minorities. | AP Photo
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The group, called Insight, will start an internship program to help students of color get placed in Republican offices, host professional development events and provide networking opportunities.
Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) will chair the initiative, which also plans to host an ongoing series of public policy forums on issues that affect ethnic minorities. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will host the first event, on post-prison re-entry programs, in March.
Insight, organizing as a 501(c)4, will start with a full-time staff of one, but organizers outlined big plans for fundraising and expansion. An official launch party is scheduled for Feb. 27.
The animating idea is that the GOP must do more than recruit minority candidates in order to improve outreach.
"It's really not a matter of having African-American or Hispanic or Asian or Native American candidates or female candidates," Watts told POLITICO in an interview. "We cheapen the accomplishments of a Tim Scott when we as a party say, 'Oh, look at Tim Scott!' Or, 'Look at J.C. Watts!' Or, 'Look at Colin Powell.' ... There's a lot of work that needs to be done to connect the dots."
Watts, who chaired the Republican Conference during his four terms in the House and now runs his own consulting business, reviewed his party's pathetic performance with Hispanics and African-Americans in the November elections.
SOURCE: JAMES HOHMANN