At the Republican convention in late August, Mia Love looked a little like she'd come from another planet. Born in Brooklyn, the 36-year-old is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. The young African-American woman had only two minutes to win over a crowd of overwhelmingly white delegates.
Love was a huge hit. She received a standing ovation and chants of "USA!" The next day, all the American news channels featured her. That afternoon, her name topped word searches on Google. As the Republican candidate for Utah to the House of Representatives, Love appeals to conservative donors. The entire Republican establishment is now backing her, from Senator John McCain and ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to everyone in the Romney camp.
Mia Love embodies the wing of the Republican Party that wants to break down mental blocks and open itself to ethnic and religious minorities.
Raised as a Catholic, Love converted to Mormonism after meeting a young Mormon on a mission in Connecticut, where she earned a degree in fine arts. In the United States, Mormons are a minority, and until 1978, blacks were not even allowed to become full members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. For presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Mia Love is a perfect ambassador.
As an African-American, she might be able to help him beat Barack Obama – increasing his popularity among black voters and helping rid the GOP of its "white-only" image. According to one recent NBC poll, Mitt Romney would currently get "0%" of votes from black voters.
The mother of three is an ex-fitness teacher and former singer-dancer. Love has embraced the current ultra-conservative agenda of the GOP: close to the Tea Party movement, she is against abortion, wants to eliminate the Departments of Energy and Education, and believes in the right to keep and bear arms. She says without hesitating that “the Federal government has a spending issue, not a revenue issue.” For her, it is out of the question to raise taxes; the money would be better used by private citizens and businesses. In her advocacy of free enterprise and minimum state intervention in the economy, Mia Love verges on Libertarianism.
She may be destined for a national career. She is currently mayor of Saratoga Springs, a small farm community near Salt Lake City with a population of 18,000, whose population has grown 1700% in the past ten years.
If she wins, she will be the first black Republican Congresswoman. In Saragota Springs, where blacks account for only 3% of the population, she was elected Mayor with 60% of the votes. Running against incumbent Democrat Congressman Jim Matheson, she has led a fierce campaign attacking Barack Obama. This allows her to tell her own story in contrast. “My parents immigrated to the U.S. with ten dollars in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist. When times got tough they didn't look to Washington, they looked within. So the America I came to know was centered in personal responsibility and filled with the American dream.”
At the GOP convention in Tampa, Mia Love’s personal story had a double impact. A few hours after her speech, another African-American woman, Condoleezza Rice, reminded the audience that as a child, she could not even buy a hamburger in her racially segregated hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. But through work and perseverance, she noted, it was still possible for her to achieve the American dream and rise to become Secretary of State, in charge of U.S. diplomacy.
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