Capital Clicks

Brown and Black Forums of America to announce details on Iowa GOP presidential forum

By: - November 15, 2023 1:53 pm

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to the crowd during the Vice News Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines on Jan. 20. (Photo courtesy of Justin Hayworth/VICE News)

The Brown and Black Forums of America will announce Thursday their plans to hold the organization’s first Iowa Republican Presidential Forum.

The Brown and Black Forums of America, which won an Emmy with Vice News for graphic design and art direction in 2021, will hold a press conference Thursday in downtown Des Moines to share the date, time and location of the upcoming presidential forum. The group bills itself as the nation’s “oldest minority issues platform,” having hosted eight presidential forums since 1976, according to the organization’s website with a focus on discussing issues that matter most to communities of color.

Co-founder Wayne Ford said the non-partisan group is ready to welcome Republican presidential hopefuls to discuss their positions on issues that impact minority communities across the country. The 2024 forum will be the first time the organization hosts Republican presidential candidates. The group had plans to hold a forum with GOP presidential candidates during the 2016 nominating cycle, but the event was canceled due to “unresolved scheduling conflicts.”

In previous nominating cycles, the event has been the last forum for presidential candidates before the nominating process began with the Iowa caucuses. But Ford said that Iowans could not predict the changes that have taken place since their last event. The Democratic National Committee booted Iowa from its first-in-the-nation position, moving to kick off with the South Carolina primary, followed by New Hampshire, Nevada, Georgia and Michigan. Iowa Democrats will release caucus results on Super Tuesday.

The national Republican party has stuck to the traditional nominating calendar, starting with the Iowa Republican caucuses on Jan. 15, 2024. Ford said that regardless of Democrats’ calendar changes, Iowa is still beginning the Republican presidential nomination process — and that the forum is an important way to ensure candidates are focused on issues that impact Black and Brown Americans.

“We’re very happy that we can keep the tradition of being first-in-the-nation, and just being part of that,” Ford said.

The discussion will be framed around five topics, according to the news release: Criminal justice, immigration, education, economic development, and health.

Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann said Republicans are ready to share their policy ideas and plans at the forum.

“More dialogue is always a good thing in the political process – person-to person discussion is, in fact what makes the Iowa Caucus so important in our presidential nominating process,” Kaufmann said in a statement. “Republicans are especially keen to engage in conversations with groups such as The Brown and Black Forums of America about how bold leadership and ideas can benefit all Americans regardless of race.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.