Walker on CNN: GOP Must "Learn to Listen" to Minority Communities
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today joined CNN host Poppy Harlow to discuss his minority outreach efforts and how the Republican Party can improve in reaching into new communities following a USA Today profile published Monday, "In Donald Trump era, a GOP leader looks to recast his party's image with black voters."
"I did something that was specifically in my heart and I believe individual liberty and opportunity, prosperity – that should be good for all communities," Walker said. "Probably the thing we’re most proud of is those relationships but they weren’t pre-oped or photo-oped before, when I ran for Congress. Those relationships have been longstanding."
The interview included a clip of Walker's 2017 speech at the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference, where he challenged the audience to listen to people with opposing views, and to work hard to share the conservative message of economic prosperity and upward mobility with new communities.
"Make time for those who disagree with you. It’s easy to preach to the choir, but we must take our message to new places, to new neighborhoods and new communities. Learn to listen," Walker said in the 2017 speech. "Hold your leaders accountable, but remember your fellow man is not your enemy. Whether Democrat, muslim, minorities, or those who identify with the LGBTQ community, why? Because every American deserves the opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Even those that are unborn."
Watch the full interview here and read the full transcript below:
On if the Republican Party is doing enough to bring in minorities:
"I believe there’s a lot of improvements to be made. I never read that report . I wasn’t even aware of it when I left the ministry to run for Congress. I did something that was specifically in my heart and I believe individual liberty and opportunity, prosperity – that should be good for all communities. Probably the thing we’re most proud of is those relationships, but they weren’t pre-oped or photo-oped before, when I ran for Congress. Those relationships have been longstanding. Our work in the inner cities of Cleveland, New York and Baltimore and recently I became the first Republican, elected Republican, to speak keynote at the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. I took great pride in that because that goes beyond the Republican-Democrat."
On 2017 CPAC Speech:
"Exactly – and that speech you just played there, that speech was not a non-partisan crowd, that was one of the more conservative conferences there in Washington, D.C., so we try to be consistent with our message."
On if the President's controversial comments makes minority outreach harder:
"Sometimes it can be difficult to explain some of the tweets, there is no question about that. What we’re trying to do is look at the results instead of the personality, sometimes. I have three children; I think you have a couple as well. We want to set good standards. President Obama was a good man, had a good marriage. I love for my children to exemplify that component. But you cannot deny his policy added people to the poverty arena. We believe President Trump’s policies as well as the House Republicans’ are helping pull people out of that poverty situation. Ultimately, we have to get away from this government notion that adding more people to a government program is a good solution. It’s not – it actually stymies the American Dream for many of these people."
On if Walker finds the President's comments racist:
"I find them offensive. To be able to label someone a racist is sometimes trying to judge where their heart’s intent. Some of the undertones, some of the things that I hear is not language that I use because I know how hurtful and painful it is to many of my friends in these communities. We’ve got to continue to try to raise the standard, but we’ve got to get past this place also. Are we measuring more this Administration about personality or about policy, about results? I hope that – both matters, I get that. Character, integrity, and class always matter, but we want to make sure that we don’t get distracted by some of this to miss some of the things that we believe are helping all of our communities."