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January 11, 2008

State GOP leaders plan to meet with LGBT voters

Columbus--“We haven’t met with LGBT folks yet, but it’s part of the plan,” said Ohio Republican Party spokesperson John McClelland, clarifying statements made by Deputy Chair Kevin DeWine. “The goal is to have meetings between now and the end of the first quarter.”

McClelland described a series of meetings that party heads are planning with “coalition groups” of 10 to 15 people, with an advisory role.

DeWine was responding to a reporter’s question during a January 9 conference call about what role the so-called “values voters” would have in Ohio during the 2008 presidential elections.

Those voters are credited with turning out in large numbers in 2004 for the state’s constitutional marriage ban amendment, helping George W. Bush defeat John Kerry in Ohio.

“We’re still trying to get our hands around that,” DeWine said, adding that is one purpose of meeting with the coalition groups.

“Our process is to motivate as many voters as possible, and to motivate them around things that affect their daily lives,” DeWine said. “For some, those issues are important.”

“We have had some conversations with Log Cabin Republicans,” DeWine said of the party’s LGBT group.

DeWine indicated that Ohio’s social conservatives have not yet coalesced around any particular candidate.

“When I had conversations with the social conservatives around supporting certain candidates, there was no consensus,” DeWine continued.

“At that time, we thought the Democratic nominee would be Hillary Clinton, and when asked who they would support over Hillary Clinton, to a person, they chose any Republican,” DeWine said.

McClelland said the extent to which LGBT issues would be part of the presidential campaign would depend on which candidate emerged.

“But,” McClelland added, “we plan to do a better job reaching out to the LGBT community.”

“We’re not attempting to drive wedges between communities,” McClelland said.

DeWine also said that Ohio might still be relevant in choosing the GOP nominee on March 4.

“I’m not sure that the Republican primary will be over by then, or for that matter, if the Democratic primary will either,” DeWine said. “Based on what’s been going on, Ohio may still play a role.”

Regardless, DeWine said Ohio will be “ground zero” again in the general election.

“Ohio will play an important role in choosing who the next president will be,” he said.

“The election [in Ohio] will be about winning independents,” said DeWine.

“Change is not a Democrats only message,” DeWine said.


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