Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another P.R. Nightmare for a state GOP Party

I'm starting to see a pattern with the GOP this year... That they are full of racists and then the party has to scramble to correct things:

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Republican Party is distancing itself from a vendor who sold campaign buttons at last weekend's state convention that asked, "If Obama is president ... will we still call it The White House?"

The state GOP party said Wednesday that it will donate the $1,500 rent it collected from the vendor,, to Midwestern flood victims.

State GOP spokesman Hans Klingler said the party does not vet the merchandise being sold, but officials plan to discuss doing so in the future. The button sales at the convention in Houston were first reported in The Dallas Morning News.

"This vendor need not apply to another Texas GOP state convention," Klingler said. "We will neither tolerate nor profit from bigotry."

The vendor, Jonathan Alcox, said he was trying to be funny and based the button on a political cartoon. He said he made 12 buttons and sold four, two of them to reporters.

"We're into humor, not racism," said Alcox, who described himself as an independent who may vote for Obama in November. "Why would I do that purposely? I thought it was funny."

The state GOP will bar the vendor from booth space at future events and "encourage him to clean up his act," Klingler said.

"The Republican Party of Texas told me I can never go there again. They're my biggest event," Alcox said. "It's pretty much put me out of business."

State GOP officials said they also have alerted the Republican National Convention so that Alcox will not be allowed to sell merchandise at the convention in St. Paul, Minn., in September.

The Texas Republican Party, whose platform is often far to the right of the national GOP, has been in hot water over diversity issues before.

In 1998, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest organization of gay Republicans, was denied a booth at the GOP state convention in Fort Worth and likened to the Ku Klux Klan by a Texas Republican Party spokesman.

"We don't allow pedophiles, transvestites or cross-dressers, either," then-GOP spokesman Robert Black said at the time.

Chi Trib

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