The Rev. Thaddeus A. Garrett Jr., 51, an ordained clergyman, lobbyist and Republican adviser who simultaneously counseled and rebuked his party on its failure to market itself to black voters, died of renal failure Nov. 8 at George Washington University Medical Center. He lived in Washington.
A fourth-generation Republican, Dr. Garrett was a domestic policy adviser to Vice President George Bush from 1981 to 1983 and was a special adviser to Bush during his presidency. With a focus on attracting black support, he was a senior adviser to the Republican National Committee and to Robert J. Dole's 1996 Republican presidential campaign.
On occasion, he was critical of the party. In a 1993 Washington Post op-ed article, Dr. Garrett wondered why Republicans were not campaigning in black neighborhoods and hiring "dynamic black spokespersons" to sell the party platforms. As a result, he argued, Democrats could walk away with the black vote.
In the same piece, Dr. Garrett described his heritage, specifically his great-grandfather, Augustus Fite, a Republican ward leader in Tennessee. "The party of Lincoln and Fite has seemingly adopted an incredible indifference toward the black vote and a lack of recognition of its potency, holding an unfortunate view that to try to win black voters is an effort in futility."
He also was not immune from criticism. While a Howard University trustee in 1989, Dr. Garrett nominated former Republican National Committee chairman Lee Atwater to Howard's board thinking he would be a keen fund-raiser. But Atwater resigned just months later amid student protests that he masterminded ads featuring a black criminal, Willie Horton, that were meant to scare voters away from Democrat Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential bid.
In 1995, Dr. Garrett was elected chairman of the board of trustees at Howard University.
His main occupation from 1983 to 1997 was president of what became Garrett & Co., a Washington-based consulting business focusing on international trade.
Dr. Garrett was born in Akron, Ohio. While at the University of Akron, he was a summer intern with then-Rep. William H. Ayres (R-Ohio).
In the early 1970s, he received a doctorate of divinity from Howard University, and he later received honorary doctorates in divinity from Allen University, Livingstone College and Wilberforce University.
After attending college at Akron, he spent four years on the staff of then-Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.) and was campaign manager for her 1972 bid for the presidency.
Dr. Garrett ran unsuccessfully in 1974 for the Ohio legislature, and in 1975, he became an urban affairs adviser to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.
Dr. Garrett once described his beliefs while working for Rockefeller as consonant with the Chinese proverb, "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime."
"We must get our people on the road to economic and social recovery that will allow us to be independent of the federal programs," he said.
President Gerald Ford appointed him in 1976 to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A year later, he served one year as vice president for human resources of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
During the 1970s, he also was a member of the Ohio State Board of Education and a member of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
He was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the advisory council of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the executive board of the National Society of Youth Governors.
In 1997, Dr. Garrett was a distinguished teaching fellow at Harvard University, where he taught political science.
He also was associate pastor of Wesley Temple AME Zion Church in Akron. "My happiest day is in the pulpit," he told The Post in 1981. "I am free to say what I want to say. I love the freedom of motion of preaching."
Survivors include his father, Thaddeus A. Garrett Sr. of Akron; two sisters, Constance Lykes of Fort Washington and Denise McCoy of Columbus, Ohio; and a brother, Gordon Garrett of Akron.