Tavis Smiley is not an emcee, but that didn’t stop him from laying into the Republican party and its 2008 presidential hopefuls like a battle-hungry rapper in a recent interview with EUR Web.
A veteran journalist and author, Smiley is set to moderate a debate with GOP candidates that will air Sept. 27 on PBS. A similar debate with the Democratic presidential hopefuls took place this summer.
However, things quickly turned sour for Smiley when he learned that several of candidates will not be in attendance and neither wasted time nor bit his tongue describing his feelings about the situation.
“The word frontrunner has taken a whole new meaning for me,” he says during the interview with Lee Bailey. “I didn’t know it meant being out front and running from people of color.”
Smiley also went on to draw a parallel between his debate, the debate hosted by Univision, and what message the noticeable absence by Republicans sends to black and brown voters.
“The frontrunners, specifically Mr. Romney, Mr. McCain and Mr. Guiliani, have said to us they will not be on stage at Norfolk State University on September 27th. All the Democrats showed up in June, but the front running Republicans have said they will not be there. They have also told Univision that they will not be there for the Hispanic debate. So, collectively, what the Republican frontrunners have told both black and brown Americans is that we don’t appreciate you, don’t value your issues and you’re not a priority to us.”
The Republican candidates weren’t the only ones drawing fire from Smiley, issuing a warning to his black GOP friends.
“J.C. Watts, Armstrong Williams, Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice … the list goes on and on … to all my black Republican friends, I don’t wanna hear it anymore! If you want black folks to take your party seriously, then your party ought to take black folks seriously.”
Undeterred by the absence of Romney, McCain and Guiliani, Smiley insists that the show will go on, and will make sure the truancy of the front runners will be on front street for the world to see.
“We’ve got five who say they are coming and, Fred Thompson just got into the race so we’re still working on him. I’ve made it clear to all of these candidates that if you show up there’s a podium with your name on it and a bottle of water for you. If you don’t show up there’s a podium with your name on it and a bottle of water. The nation is going to see at least three empty podiums representing Romney, Guiliani and McCain.”
Now that’s fighting the power.