A Black Republican In Texas Stands Firm For McCain

The historic circumstances of the Barack Obama candidacy are likely to reduce black support for the Republican nominee. But there are African-Americans who support John McCain. Among them is Justin Jordan, a junior at Texas Southern University who says he is unimpressed by Obama.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Democrat Barack Obama has been pulling in huge numbers of African-American voters and exceptional numbers among young voters. But Justin Jordan is a 22-year old black Texas Republican who's supporting the presumed nominee of his party, John McCain. NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES: In a sweltering Houston parking garage, Justin Jordan chops up a juicy piece of brisket on the back of his portable barbecue smoker.

Mr. JUSTIN JORDAN (Junior, Texas Southern University; Republican Supporter): We got you ribs...

KEYES: The fresh-faced junior at Texas Southern University wears a spiffy white fedora as he sells sandwiches and slabs of ribs to hungry campus cops, and he looks a lot like the black college students often seen cheering lustily at events for Obama. But Justin Jordan is not impressed with the rock star Democrat.

Mr. JORDAN: He's a first-time senator, and I don't see what his record has shown. His record is not so stellar that black people can just go out and support him.

KEYES: Jordan is firmly behind Republican Senator John McCain. Among other reasons, he points to his one-year-old enterprise named JJ'S BBQ and More.

Mr. JORDAN: I'm a business owner, and one day I'm going to be paying a lot of money in taxes.

KEYES: Jordan, whose Facebook profile features a picture of him aiming a rifle, says he simply supports McCain's positions.

Mr. JORDAN: I certainly agree with him on the Second Amendment. I agree with him on taxes. I agree with him on national defense. And I agree with him on small business growth and health care.

KEYES: But Jordan admits to being a little torn about Obama. Jordan's the former chair of the Texas Federation of College Republicans, and he does attend one of the nation's largest historically black colleges. He says he's caught some flack from fellow students about his party affiliation.

Mr. JORDAN: When you have this black guy running, and you're a black man, and, you know, you want to root, root for the team. But at the end of the day it came down to those two things: issues and how black Democrats treat black Republicans.

KEYES: How do black Democrats treat black Republicans?

Mr. JORDAN: They are not as warm to black Republicans as a black Republican would be to them.

KEYES: Jordan remembers that Obama came to Maryland to campaign against then Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, a black Republican who lost the 2006 bid for U.S. Senate.

Mr. JORDAN: Here's a man, another black male, going to a state, not even his state. I understand he was a Democrat, but sometimes you can put party aside or you can just stay out of a race.

KEYES: Jordan says he supported Democrats until he had a chance to visit both political conventions in 2004. He says the Democrats had too many caucus quotas based on race and gender instead of talent, so he switched to the Republican Party. Jordan's a man who isn't afraid to ruffle politically correct feathers.

Mr. JORDAN: I do have wings, I have a tail, and I breath fire, as do most black Republicans, since that seems to be the portrayal that black Republicans get. And I live in a dark, dark cave.

KEYES: And Jordan says he's proud of Obama but...

Mr. JORDAN: I trust McCain before I trust Obama because he seems to throw everybody under the bus, including his grandmother.

KEYES: Jordan says he'll do some volunteer work for Senator McCain after the conventions. And he's taking notes. He wants to be a U.S. senator himself.

Mr. JORDAN: One day.

KEYES: Allison Keyes, NPR News.

HANSEN: And here's a heads up. NPR's David Greene and Thomas Pierce will be blazing a trail from Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago to John McCain's hometown of Phoenix. And as they stop along the way, they want to know who are your leaders? Who inspires you? To give them some suggestions, go to npr.org/elections, and maybe they'll end up in your town.

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