By Ronni Berke and Carol Costello, CNN
(CNN) – Political blogger Sophia Nelson considers herself to be a long-time Republican moderate – at least until recently, when she says she’s become more libertarian and independent.
“The problem with the Republican Party now is that (it) is identified with the Tea Party, with the conservative movement,” Nelson, editor-in-chief of politicalintersection.com, explains. Nelson identifies more with Republicans like the late New York Congressman Jack Kemp and former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman.
“People like myself and others feel like well, there's really not a place for someone like me in that party because we're RINOS, Republicans in name only, right?”
She says some Republican leaders are sensitive to that and even more worried now in light of the Shirley Sherrod affair, as perhaps, they should be. A CNN poll shows 73 percent of African-Americans think some or all of Tea Party supporters - who generally lean Republican - are racially prejudiced. And only 26 percent of African-Americans think the Republican Party does a good job of reaching out to minorities.
Nelson says Republicans have been calling her for advice. And she's sharing.
“I've been saying this forever, if all of your messengers are grey-haired white males, middle aged white males, you know, I'm not saying anything bad about them, but what I am saying is the perception issue.”
Conservatives have tried to change perception. For example, when Rep. Michelle Bachman called her Tea Party caucus together at least five speakers were people of color. But, Nelson says that's not good enough.
“Just because you have a black face doesn't mean that you can get credibility in your community,” she says. “People look at you based on what you've done, at what organizations you're a part of, are you helping, whether you can make things better in the community you are a part of. That's the kind of thing that resonates with people.”
She says if Republicans really want to attract more black people to the Party, they should re-acquaint themselves with Colin Powell a moderate Republican who voted for President Obama, but is respected in the black community.
We want to know what you think this morning. What can the Republican Party do to attract more African-Americans to the Party?