DEBORAH AMOS, host:
I'm Deborah Amos and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Michel Martin is in St. Paul, Minnesota this week covering the Republican National Convention. They say it takes a village to raise a child but maybe you just need a few Mocha Moms. Normally, we visit with members of this mother support group each week for their common sense and their savvy parenting advice. As we continue our special coverage of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, we thought we'd talk to the Mocha Moms about the GOP. What is the appeal of the conservative party for women of color? African-Americans are traditionally considered more politically liberal voting Democratic. But not so fast say conservatives. The GOP emphasis on morals and values speaks to many African-American families. On Friday, we caught up with some self-described conservative moms. Lynda Greene is a member of the Mocha Moms Organization and she's joined by a special guest mom, Renee Amoore. Welcome to the program ladies.
Ms. RENEE AMOORE (Pennsylvania Republican Party): Thank you.
Ms. LYNDA GREENE (Mocha Mom): Thank you.
AMOS: How do you define the difference between a conservative and a liberal?
Ms. GREENE: I define it as a conservative as not believing in big government. I define a conservative as being in free enterprise, and those core values that I'm teaching my children. Those are some of the things that stand out to me right now.
AMOS: And a liberal is somebody who doesn't believe in those things?
Ms. GREENE: And a liberal was somebody who believes in big government. They have core values too, not to talk bad about liberals, but I think of liberals that lead in big government. I'm concerned when I hear about raising taxes and trying to kind of level the playing field, so to speak in terms of having - helping everybody get some things, I should say.
AMOS: And Renee, what do you think that the GOP holds for African-American women, and for African-American families?
Ms. AMOORE: You know, I think that we hold a lot. I think that we just don't get the information on a message out and that's why I am glad that we're speaking today. I think one thing that we really put out is talk about health care. Health care is really important not just to African-Americans, to everyone and for our children in particular that's growing up and that may need some things for our seniors. Also, what's good - important for us is education. Education is a very big thing for Republicans to make sure that folks are educated and get their needs met, and they have proven that by having these after school programs, putting money to the social service programs because a lot of folks don't think Republicans do that but they do. I run social service companies and the government gives us money to help with people that are in low income areas and that need that particular help. So to me it's all about for us and how we help people with health care, education and economic development. So those are the things that Republicans have done, those are the things that Conservatives, African-American - women in particular - are starting to look at because we're starting to put out information. And a clear a message out there because we don't brag enough.
AMOS: Let me ask both of you. Did you come from Republican families? Did your mothers identify themselves as conservatives?
Ms. AMOORE: For me, absolutely. My mom was the first African-American committee person right outside of Philadelphia. And so, we - our values were always so much more closer than the Democratic values. We really dealt with faith and family. But I'm not saying that the Democrats don't but that's really big on our agenda, we dealt with folks making sure that we have a job but that we're responsible and that we're accountable and that if we need some help, we get that help but then we try to move on so that we can feel good about who we are and what we're doing.
AMOS: And, Lynda?
Ms. GREENE: You know, it's interesting that African-Americans probably hold real traditional or conservative values but we tend to go Democratic. And I think that from what I was reading, even with Nixon - 60 percent of the African-American population voted for Nixon. So, when I think about that, I think we definitely have core values. I come from a family, both of my parents have their PhDs, you know, I have a bachelor's in Chemistry even though I'm a stay-at-home mom now. But, it's just - when you look at that, we have those core conservative values but a lot of people are Democratic. And I don't know - I think, for me personally, this election has caused me to really look at the issues and think about it. I don't really look at it in terms of being a black woman but I look at it in terms of looking at the values as a mother, as a wife and how this election is going to affect my household.
AMOS: So this election for you Lynda, has made you more Republican?
Ms. GREENE: Yes.
AMOS: You've self-identified even more.
Ms. GREENE: Yes.
Ms. AMOORE: I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. AMOORE: I love it, Lynda.
Ms. GREENE: Thank you.
AMOS: You are an advocate, Renee.
(Soundbite of laughter)
AMOS: If you're just joining us, you're listening to Tell Me More from NPR News. I'm speaking with Conservative Mocha Moms about the GOP. Let's talk a little bit about identity because that gets kind of interesting. We just watched New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton run a historic race for president. And now we have the Alaska governor who is going to be the Republican vice presidential pick. How important is gender for both of you in politics?
Ms. AMOORE: To me, it's - we have to bring more women to the table so people understand what our needs are around the health care, around preventative health care, around our children, around you know, stay at home mom versus people that work. So it's important to have a seat at the table for women so the more women that are involved, the better.
AMOS: Lynda, did you get that twinge when the Republicans picked a woman? Did you say, ah, that's my voice, now I guess, I really like them?
Ms. GREENE: You know, I said this earlier that the Republican voice was speaking to me but definitely, when they selected the vice president as a woman, that really, I mean I was probably screaming in my house and like I can't believe it! But it definitely peaked my interest and now I'm very excited to see what's up ahead.
AMOS: But we also need to talk about race. Was there not a moment for both of you on the night that Barack Obama, and that was as historical as the Hillary campaign, when he accepted the nomination for president of the United States. Did you not, as a black woman, both of you, say boy, this is really something?
Ms. GREEN: Definitely. I think it's like, I tell people all the time, I love Barack, I love Michelle. You know, I think they are really good people. My vote has nothing to do if I like or dislike somebody. My vote has to do with, again, how those issues and how the next president is going to affect my household.
AMOS: Renee, did you have that moment as well?
Ms. AMOORE: You know what? I really did. It really became a tearjerker because it was historical. You're looking at Martin Luther King, the 45th anniversary. And so you know, I have to agree with Lynda. But it's all about my vote and my vote is important and my values go closer to the Republican Party. The issue with Obach(ph) - and I could beat Obama and I could beat up everyday, is that, you know, he's African-American and I'm very proud of him, I'm very proud of Michelle, they have a wonderful story, wonderful children. But then I have to look out for my child, my family and people that I represent and what do I think is the best for me and my family, you know and my extended family.
AMOS: But look, the trend in the country is a little bit different. In three southern states where actually they were counting, it turns out that there had been more African-American Republicans who have been switching to Democrats. So is there something missing in the way that the party carries out its politics that it doesn't sell well to African-Americans? Is there something that will happen in this convention that may change that or are there some policies that the party needs to adopt to bring more African-Americans?
Ms. GREENE: I don't know. I don't think that there is the stereotype that if you're a Republican that you know, you have a lot of money or something. But I know, for me personally, in my household, that we did not get that - what was that, that stimulus package check. I know that when Barack is talking about lowering the taxes for 95 percent of the Americans, then I'm part of that 5 percent he's talking about raising taxes for. That is very concerning to me and a lot of my friends are you know, either two income or one income where their husband making a nice salary and stuff. So I think when people really look at the issues or not, just well, you know what? We're Democrats and we're voting straight Democrats. When you really look at the issues, I think a lot more people would probably be Republicans probably so.
AMOS: So, Renee, do you think those three states in the south and it's the only place that's really taking statistics. This could be happening in other places as far as I know. Do you think that as time goes by, as people begin to pay attention which they tend to do after the conventions, that we will see, first of all, the stop in the erosion of African-American Republicans switching to Democrats and may be some coming the other way?
Ms. GREENE: Yes. Definitely.
Ms. AMOORE: Yeah. I think we definitely have to stop that erosion because we have to do it with our message and our message has to be much clearer but you brought up a good point and we have to make sure that we explain our policies, what they're really about, and make sure that we explain what we've done so that people can see - bright. We are given these stimulus checks, you know we are doing social services program, giving money out there to make sure that people can survive. We are looking at energy. We are looking at how your food goes up, your prices. And I think you will hear those messages at the Republican Convention.
AMOS: This week, we are seeing the Republican message, what do both of you want to see specifically? Not just the way that they deliver but what do you want to see specifically the Republicans say to African-Americans to bring them into the party? Renee?
Ms. AMOORE: I want them to really talk about health care. That's a big thing on all of our minds, African-Americans in particular, I guess, because I'm in the health care business.
AMOS: And that's been the theme in the Democratic Convention.
Ms. AMOORE: Absolutely. Absolutely and we have to talk about that. But we also have to talk about prosperity. You know, where people are, where they want to go, how we're going to help you get there to get what you need to make it an order to survive.
AMOS: And Lynda, what do you want to hear so that you don't have to explain yourself?
Ms. GREENE: I definitely want to hear about economics. I definitely want to hear about oil and what are we going to do with the gas prices. I want to hear about education, I'm a home schooler. I know John McCain has talked about that. I want to hear about taxes. You know, everybody says, well, John McCain's going to raise your taxes too but it's really concerning to me when you hear that you know, 95 percent of the people are not going to have their taxes raised and that they're going to get lowered and then that means the other five percent so that's the concern. So taxes, the economy, what are we going to do about our gas prices, education? Those are the things that are important to me.
AMOS: The news broke yesterday that Republican running mate Sarah Palin's 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. The McCain campaign then disclosed that Bristol Palin plans to keep her baby and marry the child's father. So we decided to get Renee and Lynda back to talk about whether the news affects their opinion of the Alaska governor's fitness to be vice president. Thanks ladies for coming back.
Ms. GREENE: Hello.
Ms. AMOORE: Hello and thanks for having me.
AMOS: Does this news in any way changed how you feel about Sarah Palin and her family? Lynda?
Ms. GREENE: No. It doesn't. I think that a lot of times people try to, you know point to like the parenting of the parents on the child...
AMOS: Yes they do.
Ms. GREENE: But it does not change my opinion.
AMOS: And Renee, do you think that there is going to be extra scrutiny because Sarah Palin is running for vice president?
Ms. AMOORE: You know what, Deborah, I think there's going to extra scrutiny. I mean, everybody's talking about it. I'm here down at the convention and reporters are coming up to you just randomly asking the question how do you feel? I'm OK with it. That's her personal business and unfortunately, the media is going to get into everything. We don't know what happened, why it happened, you know when it happened and it's really none of our business and that's not going to change hers, as far as I'm concerned, being a good vice president.
AMOS: Let me ask you both. If you think that Sarah Palin is being treated differently because she's a woman. If she was a man, if she was a father of this child, do you think that the media treatment of her would be different.
Ms. GREENE: This is Lynda. I definitely think that if she was a man, the media treatment would be different.
AMOS: But Renee, do you think so too that if this had happened to a male candidate, that this whole story would be very different?
Ms. AMOORE: Absolutely because people could care - they're like you know how they hold men and women to different standards and still, the country unfortunately, is like that. And so that's going to go on and on and on. We wouldn't have heard this if it was a man. Even if it was an African-American man, we still wouldn't have heard it.
AMOS: Renee, do you think it would be a different story if this was an African-American candidate?
Ms. AMOORE: You know what? I think you're right on target there. It could be a whole different story. I have to admit, it could be a whole different story. I think it would have been different that you know, seeing how Africans and Americans are, they're not married, they're having children before they get married, you know, they're young, their babies are having babies. I mean, a typical story you hear right now.
AMOS: The president of the Christian Coalition of America had said it's a very private matter and do you think that is enough for religious conservatives who are very heavy in their emphasis on morals and moral parenting? Lynda?
Ms. GREENE: I do think it's going to be in the media cycle. I think that liberals are going to try to keep it up in the forefront but I think it's going to be important for the conservatives again, going back to what her values are.
AMOS: And Renee, tell us about what people are talking about out of the convention about this.
Ms. AMOORE: Well, the first thing they rang up, Deborah and Lynda, was to say did you hear? And I'm like, did I hear what? Because I've been out since six o'clock this morning but people are talking about it. They ask the question, that you just asked them or what do you think conservatives really feel about it, faith-based you know, organizations. So people were looking at the concerns and even talking about pros and cons of this. You know, people do have different opinions. You have to respect it. Basically, my opinion is like Lynda, this is their personal family's business. They're going to handle it the way they need to handle it you know, for whatever reason and just you got to respect that.
AMOS: Well, I thank you both for coming back in.
Ms. GREENE: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Ms. AMOORE: Thanks. We love in coming in Mocha Moms. I love this show.
AMOS: And it's Mocha Mom Lynda Greene who joined us in our Washington studios and Renee Amoore who's the Deputy Chairman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party and she joined us from the Republican Convention in St. Paul. Thank you both.
Ms. GREENE: Thank you. Ms. AMOORE: Thank you.
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