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GOP accuses Dems of playing race card

From NBC's Mark Murray
Republicans are arguing that Democrats' appeal to young and minority voters is an effort to "play the race card."

On Monday, President Obama released an video to supporters, in which he said (among other things): "It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women, who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again."

And today, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that DNC Chairman Tim Kaine today is expected to lay out a plan "to energize its base and appeal to such distinct groups as African-Americans, Latinos and younger voters, among others."

Said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain in an email to reporters: "DNC Chairman Tim Kaine gave voters a sneak peak at their 2010 strategy: Play the race card from the bottom of the deck. After promising to transcend the political debate in this country, President Obama and his hand-picked party boss plan to shamelessly engage in race-baiting."

Added Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye: "Only days after our post-racial president made an appeal based on class warfare and race, Gov. Kaine is doing the same thing. It tells you how bad things are for them. Desperate times call for desperate measures, only now it's on an advanced timetable."

Of course, this RNC hit comes just days after Chairman Michael Steele was courting African-American voters and denouncing the GOP's past so-called "Southern Strategy" that alienated minority voters.

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse fires back: "Working to turn out voters who were new to the process in 2008 -- the majority of which as a matter of fact were people of color and young people -- is no more an appeal to race than Michael Steele saying he's going to bring a 'hip hop' makeover to the Republican Party or an 'urban' feel to the GOP."

*** UPDATE *** The NRCC's Ken Spain clarifies to First Read that he was referring to the Wall Street Journal's assertion that "Democratic Party leaders are accusing opponents of trying to delegitimize President Barack Obama and of preparing to suppress the votes of minority and poor voters in the November election."

Says Spain: "Gov. Kaine's accusations regarding a secret Republican plot to 'suppress' minority votes are outrageous and absurd. Republicans hope to energize and appeal to minority voters on the issues, not by fear-mongering and race-baiting. Voters deserve a real debate on the issues, particularly when it comes to the issue of jobs, including the unacceptably high unemployment rate in the African-American and Hispanic communities under President Obama and his Democrat-led Congress."