Seems like it was only a month-and-a-half ago that Stefani Carter, the Republican state rep from North Dallas, was just another face in that Mitt Romney campaign piece about how, despite having just been booed during his speech to the NAACP, black people love him. Now, she's a full-fledged surrogate.
Last week, she was in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, fielding questions for the campaign about minority issues. This week, the campaign appointed her to Romney's Black Leadership Council and flew her to Charlotte to keep an eye on the Democrats.
And what, precisely, does that entail? Did Carter don an Obama shirt and squeal gleefully at the mention of the man's name as she tiptoed past security to spy on the enemy? Not quite, though "I'd probably blend right in," she said.
Instead, Carter was in a satellite office filled with TV screens showing every network's coverage of the DNC. It was her job to help craft and disseminate the Romney media response.
"What we're doing in short is, we're telling the truth," Carter said yesterday.
Case in point? We spoke Thursday afternoon, well before Obama's speech, so she focused on Clinton. He's a great speaker, she said, but his claim that 4.5 million private sector jobs have been created under Obama only dates back to 2010 and fails to factor in the millions that were shed earlier. His claim that Obamacare has helped keep the growth of healthcare spending below four percent annually is a stretch, too, Carter said, since it neglects to mention that much of the law has not yet been written.
And those pesky Democratic claims that Romney and Paul Ryan want to gut Medicare? "That couldn't be further from the truth," she said. "Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney plan would allow seniors to remain on Medicare." They just want to give people an additional option to get private insurance. (For the record, Clinton's speech mostly checked out).
Pretty standard Republican talking points, but Carter seems to have been embraced by the Romney camp as much for her ethnicity as her political chops. Why then, given the fact that Obama did make history as the first black president and that the interests of minority communities tend to line up more closely with the Democratic platform, would black voters in particular want to vote for Romney?
Carter said Obama has never addressed head-on the unemployment rate for African Americans, which is around twice the national average, and he's done little to address their economic concerns. Romney would, Carter said. Romney "didn't wake up one day and say 'Let's act like we care about minorities,'" she said. He loves minorities. Women, too. Carter was a student at Harvard Law when Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, presided over a state government with more women in top levels than just about anywhere else.
Bottom line, she said: forget about the image of the Republican party as not looking out for the interests of minorities and waging a war on women. This election's about the economy.
"It's so important (for voters) to know that if they're economic situation has not improved over the last four years, then no matter their ethnicity or gender, they should think about why it is they're casting a certain vote," Carter said.
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