The new chairman of the Republican Party said yesterday he plans to abolish special liaison offices his predecessor set up to reach out to blacks, Hispanics, Jews and ethnics, but he pledged to continue efforts to broaden the party.
Conceding that the moves will cause controversy, Chairman Richard Richards said the liaison offices and the groups they created failed to attract new voters to the party.
"They became very exclusive groups. They haven't reached out. They haven't expanded. . . . What happens when you form groups like this is they talk to themselves," he told a breakfast meeting of reporters.
Richards singled out as particularly unsuccessful efforts pushed by former chairman Bill Brock to reach out to blacks and Hispanics. "The effort we made toward blacks and Hispanics was in error," the new chairman said. "It didn't work."
The Republican National Committee will continue to have blacks and Hispanics on its 260-person staff, but they will be integrated into its overall operations, he said. "There will no longer be a black division, but there'll be blacks there."
Party contacts with such groups as the NAACP will be conducted by its political division instead of any special liaison office, he said. "We'll have blacks talking to whites and whites talking to blacks."
Although Richards said the party will spend $500,000 next year on activities directed at blacks, Hispanics, ethnic and Jewish voters, the new party chairman's reorganization moves are expected to create controversy because they will eliminate contact points the groups value in bringing their concerns to the party.
Richards also indicated yesterday he will refuse to be pushed around by another powerful lobbying group within the party -- the New Right. "The main thing they [the New Right and other single-issue groups] have to understand is they did not win the victory. The victory of Ronald Reagan was the victory of 43 million Americans," he said.
Richards said he plans to continue a series of meetings he has scheduled with representatives of the New Right. But he said "some of the groups may be more commercial groups than ideological ones." Later, he added, "We're not going to be intimidated by these groups."
Richards, a former Utah state GOP chairman who was picked national chairman by Reagan, said the party is preparing a well-financed and sophisticated effort to exploit reapportionment as part of its drive to take over the House of Represenatives, and increase its strength in state legislatures.
A 14-member squad of attorneys, computer specialists and political operatives has already been assembled to aid Republicans in redistricting battles across the country. Of particular interest to the party will be the shift of 17 congressional seats from the North to the South and West. But Richards said the party is ready to spend considerble money to protect the seats it already has, and go into court if necessary to insure it receives equitable treatment in states with legislatures controlled by Democrats.