DETROIT (AP) — The finance chair for the Republican National Committee told a Michigan tea party gathering this summer that Detroit’s plummeting population and lack of a mayoral machine to get voters “to stop playing pool and drinking beer in the pool hall” has decreased its influence in elections.
Ron Weiser‘s comments were secretly videotaped Aug. 9 by a Democrat shadowing a Republican congressional candidate. The Detroit Free Press obtained the video from the Michigan Democratic Party and reported on it Sunday.
In the video, Weiser, the state’s former GOP chairman, can be seen telling attendees what his thoughts were heading into the Nov. 6 presidential election, which President Barack Obama won.
Detroit — which is more than 80 percent black and votes almost overwhelmingly Democratic — isn’t to be feared as much because the city’s population has dropped below 700,000 people and there no longer are strong, mayor-led machines to get voters to the polls, Weiser said.
There is “no Coleman Young machine. No Kwame Kilpatrick machine. There is no Dave Bing machine,” he said. “There’s no machine to go to the pool halls and the barbershops and put those people on buses, and then bus them from precinct to precinct where they vote multiple times.
“And there’s no machine to get ‘em to stop playing pool and drinking beer in the pool hall. And it does make a difference.”
Young was Detroit’s first black mayor and served nearly 20 years in the office. Kilpatrick resigned in 2008 during his second term while facing perjury and other charges related to text-messaging sex scandal. Bing, a professional basketball Hall of Famer and former businessman, was elected mayor in 2009.
“Obama has hired a lot of people to go help him get that vote out,” Weiser continued in the video. “But if you’re not from Detroit, the places where those pool halls and barbershops are, you’re not going to be going at 6:30 in November. Not without a side arm.”
The Rev. David Bullock, chairman of the Michigan Rainbow Push Coalition, characterized the remarks as racist.