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Sharpton blasts Republicans for no-show

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Al Sharpton (UPI file photo/Bill Greenblatt)

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –

To hear part of Thursday's panel discussion about the black vote in the 2008 election, click here

Speakers include:
- Marc Morial (moderator), Urban League President
- Rev. Al Sharpton
- Rev. Joe Watkins, Republican strategist
- Dewayne Wickham, USA Today columnist
- Shannon Reeves, Republican spokesman

Black Republican political strategists on Thursday defended their party's no-show at Friday's presidential candidates' forum at the National Conference of the Urban League in St. Louis.

But civil rights leader Al Sharpton says black voters should punish them. Sharpton says the message that black voters should take from that fact is Republicans aren't interested in them.

"I wish that the Republican candidates had showed up, because I think that they should be questioned," says Sharpton.

"We need to have our votes competed for and those that don't enter the competition, we need to punish them for not feeling that they have to come and talk to us."

Sharpton was among a panel of black leaders, political strategists and journalists who discussed the black vote in the 2008 presidential election.

Traditionally African Americans have overwhelmingly favored Democrats in presidential elections.

Still, several Black Republicans are out to change the image of the GOP to make it more appealing to African Americans.

Joe Watkins is a Republican Strategist who also was on the panel alongside Reverend Sharpton.

"As long as Democrats know that at the end of the day, whether they say things that you like or things that you don't like, you're gonna vote for them, they'll take you for granted and as long as Republicans know that no matter how hard I try for you vote, no matter what my voting record is, I'm not gonna get your vote', then Republicans won't work as hard for the vote of people of color."

Democrats have pointed to the fact Republicans are not attending Friday's presidential candidate forum, as evidence that Republicans do not care about Black issues.

Democratic candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich will speak at the conference on Friday.

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