Former Fourth Congressional District Rep. J.C. Watts told a group of fellow Republicans Thursday night during a “Get Out the Vote” rally, “I’ve been accused of not being black enough.”
And, “I’ve been accused of not being pure enough,” he told the gathering hosted by Better Business Bureau President Rick Brinkley and Oklahoma GOP Chairman Gary Jones.
The audience included Attorney General candidate Ryan Leonard and Dewey Bartlett, running for Tulsa mayor.
Watts, a former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback, said his experience in Congress shaped him and helped him see what really matters, regardless of party or how many issues you may or may not agree with.
He said being politically “pure” is impossible. He added that just because you don’t agree with John McCain, or any Republican, on every issue, shouldn’t matter. It should matter that the opponent, for instance President Obama, disagrees with you on 100 percent of the issues.
And yet some Republicans, he said, grumble that he doesn’t “slam” Obama enough and suggested he was a closet Obama supporter.
Laughing that off – sharing how he stumped for McCain in 2008 – Watts added, “I never slammed Bill Clinton but I voted to impeach him.”
“My faith compels me to love everybody, but it doesn’t compel me to love everything,” Watts said.
Injecting his faith into his speech, Watts said he is “proud” of it and he made no apologies for sharing Christianity in his daily life.
He said with Obama and the Democrats in control in Washington, now is the time for Republicans to regroup and reassess what is most important.
“We are in a battle for the soul of the greatest nation in the world,” Watts said. “This battle has been turbo charged by the Left.”
Watts said that in the 1980s as a young black man from a Democrat family, he discovered he identified with 90 percent of what the Republican Party stood for.
It was President Reagan, “the consummate optimist,” who made him realize that this Republican president wanted to show a strong America at the end of the Cold War.
“Ronald Reagan inspired me because he gave me the impression that we’re going to win this thing,” he said.
And so that led him on the path to actually running – and winning – in a district that had been strongly Democratic.
Watts was sure that there were plenty more conservative Republicans here in Oklahoma, and the party needs to seek them.
“I want lukewarm Republicans, Democrats and independents on our side,” Watts said.
Watts, who said he “doesn’t really read blogs,” noted the current issue involving Sen. Tom Coburn of Muskogee who is being connected to a sex scandal involving fellow GOP Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.
“To make that look sinister,” he said of Coburn’s prayerful counseling of Ensign. “It’s what politics has become.” He later added, “I think Tom Coburn is a great senator.”
“We need to take our message to those who don’t believe in what we’re doing,” Watts said, adding later, “I have been a big advocate of diversity in our party. I don’t apologize for that. We have become afraid of diversity because we’ve allowed the Left to define it.”
And before closing – giving a final shout out to the benefits of capitalism and free enterprise – Watts said the coming years are important for the Republican Party in Oklahoma.
“We’ve got an opportunity to state who we are,” he said. “We’re on the cusp of a new revolution.”
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