It's Hard Out There For A Black Candidate At CPAC
Wandering around the vast and labyrinthine CPAC yesterday, I stumbled into Michael Williams, the Texas Railroad Commissioner (an important elected gig in the Lone Star State) and a Republican candidate for the Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring from.
Last year, I interviewed Williams -- who at the time was among the lucky conservatives to have Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) endorsement in the Senate race that was supposed to happen when Hutchison quit after her run for governor (she didn't, so Williams had to wait.) During our chat, he told me how conservatives need to do a better job reaching out to the African American community, where he acknowledged right wingers have little entre or experience.
When I ran into him yesterday, it appeared conservatives have not made much progress on that front. Ahead of me was a CPAC attendee rushing past, as they are wont to do in this giant place.
"Hey, are you Herman Cain?" the young man asked Williams, referring to another African American conservative running for federal office and attending CPAC.
I asked Williams if that happened a lot.
"Not really," he told me. "A lot of people think I'm a waiter."
Williams blamed the confusion on his trademark bowtie, which -- like a lot of conservatives -- he wears all the time, and wears well.
A friend with him said that on more than one occasion, people had asked him to get them a drink.
"I think it's really because of the bowtie," Williams explained.
Confusion over who is and who isn't a waiter is certainly not limited to CPAC, or to conservatives in general.
But Cain and Williams, along with Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who'll be delivering the keynote address this afternoon, are pretty much the only black elected officials in attendance. It's at least a little striking that people here get the men confused or think they work here.