Religious leaders call on Tillis to apologize over 'traditional' - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Religious leaders call on Tillis to apologize over 'traditional' comment

Posted: Updated:
In a September 2012 interview with Charlotte PBS affiliate WTVI, Thom Tillis referenced a need for the Republican Party to better communicate with minority voters. (WTVI) In a September 2012 interview with Charlotte PBS affiliate WTVI, Thom Tillis referenced a need for the Republican Party to better communicate with minority voters. (WTVI)
RALEIGH, N.C. - Religious leaders in Raleigh are calling on North Carolina speaker of the House and Republican United States Senate candidate Thom Tillis to apologize over remarks he made nearly 2 years ago.

In a September 2012 interview with Charlotte PBS affiliate WTVI, Tillis referenced a need for the Republican Party to better communicate with minority voters, but it's how he phrased that need that is now causing controversy on the campaign trail.

"The traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is, more or less, stable. It's not growing," Tillis told Carolina Business Review host Chris William. He added, "The African American population is roughly growing, but the hispanic population are growing in significant numbers. We've got to resonate with those future voters."

That statement did not resonate with Dr. Earl C. Johnson, a reverend at Raleigh's Martin Street Baptist Church.

"It borders on racism," Johnson said. "The history of African Americans in North Carolina goes back to slavery. I mean, we were here."

Johnson and other members of the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association plan to ask for an apology at a press conference scheduled for Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church.

"And wanting him to at least acknowledge that he made a mistake and maybe he should have rephrased it another way," Johnson said.

Tillis campaign manager Jordan Shaw defended the comment in a statement saying in part, "Speaker Tillis made it clear that the Republican Party must reach out and engage all North Carolinians to broaden its message of freedom and opportunity to an increasingly diverse state and country. It is disappointing -- but not surprising -- that Kay Hagan is intentionally taking these comments out of context."

Tillis is running against Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan.

The Hagan campaign also asked for an apology earlier in the week, which the Tillis campaign declined to give.

Johnson said in also asking for an apology that his group is acting on its own.

"I have nothing, nothing with [Senator Hagan]," he said.

Shaw also sent WNCN a list of examples were Democrats and members of the media have used the term "traditional" to refer to a specific group of the electorate and did not face the same backlash.

In 2012, U.S. Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker told The Stanford Daily, "I'm very confident that Barack Obama is going to win. I saw the latest polling before the actual election took place and he was ahead in Ohio, ahead in Florida, close but ahead in Pennsylvania. So I feel pretty confident that he's going to win. And again, often that polling does not capture voters who are part of this enthusiastic surge [of] non-traditional voters -- people who are not likely voters -- so I have a lot of hope and belief that President Obama will win."

The campaign also said CNN analyst Roland Martin used the term in 2008 referring to white voters in New Hampshire. It also pointed out that members of the NAACP have used it in similar ways.

Political observers say the controversy probably won't hurt Tillis with the voters he needs to win.

"Tillis looks to win this election by having an older, white electorate turn out," N.C. State political science professor Steven Greene said. "Those people are not going to be particularly upset about his comments."

In a statement released Friday, Orlando Watson, Communications Director for Black Media for the Republican National Committee, said, "The truth of the matter is Thom Tillis called for expanding the Republican Party’s efforts to engage minority voters - something every single elected official in America should be doing. But two years later, Kay Hagan is distorting Tillis' words - the same exact words previously used by the NAACP and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee -- in her desperate attempt to score incredibly cheap political points. The reason is obvious: Kay Hagan cannot defend her liberal record and would rather resort to deplorable attacks to defame her opponent."

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • SBI changes could affect 2016 NC gubernatorial election

    SBI changes could affect 2016 NC gubernatorial election

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 16:11:39 GMT
    McCrory quickly named an acting director for SBI Aug. 7, hours after signing legislation that shifted the agency to one of his Cabinet-level agencies, picking another one of his law enforcement leaders to fill the job.McCrory quickly named an acting director for SBI Aug. 7, hours after signing legislation that shifted the agency to one of his Cabinet-level agencies, picking another one of his law enforcement leaders to fill the job.
    A change in who the director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation reports to could have an affect on the 2016 gubernatorial election.
    A change in who the director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation reports to could have an affect on the 2016 gubernatorial election.
  • NC legislators approve regulating toxic coal ash

    NC legislators approve regulating toxic coal ash

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:36 PM EDT2014-08-21 00:36:33 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    North Carolina lawmakers have approved legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.
    North Carolina lawmakers have approved legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.
  • State officials hear from both sides of NC fracking debate

    State officials hear from both sides of NC fracking debate

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:56 PM EDT2014-08-20 21:56:13 GMT
    People rallying outside ahead of Wednesday's public comment hearing on fracking.People rallying outside ahead of Wednesday's public comment hearing on fracking.
    Supporters and opponents of the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” are today getting an opportunity to voice their opinions on the process.
    Supporters and opponents of the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” are today getting an opportunity to voice their opinions on the process.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 59 Arrested By Greenville Police In Latest Prostitution Sting

    59 Arrested By Greenville Police In Latest Prostitution Sting

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:30 PM EDT2014-08-20 01:30:28 GMT
    Greenville Police released information Tuesday that 59 people were arrested in a four day long prostitution sting.
    Greenville Police released information Tuesday that 59 people were arrested in a four day long prostitution sting.
  • Ice Bucket Challenge Hits Home for Savannah Family

    Ice Bucket Challenge Hits Home for Savannah Family

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:54 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:54:48 GMT
    We've all seen Ice Bucket Challenge videos taking over social media.It's one of the first times ALS has received this much publicity and those dealing with it every day say it's a relief to see people learning about the disease.But they say many of those people still don't understand the severity of it, and how it also affects the family and friends of patients struggling with it."Having to cope with the loss while coping with the severity of the disease and all that it entails," says Blake H...
    We've all seen Ice Bucket Challenge videos taking over social media.It's one of the first times ALS has received this much publicity and those dealing with it every day say it's a relief to see people learning about the disease.But they say many of those people still don't understand the severity of it, and how it also affects the family and friends of patients struggling with it."Having to cope with the loss while coping with the severity of the disease and all that it entails," says Blake H...
  • Teen gets 11 years for carving swastika on boy

    Teen gets 11 years for carving swastika on boy

    Thursday, August 21 2014 3:45 PM EDT2014-08-21 19:45:59 GMT
    An Oregon teenager who carved a swastika into another teen's forehead as he and others tortured the boy has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
    An Oregon teenager who carved a swastika into another teen's forehead as he and others tortured the boy has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.