Republican conference to Hispanics: your home is with the GOP
January 14th, 2011
08:15 AM ET
10 years ago

Republican conference to Hispanics: your home is with the GOP

Coral Gables, Florida (CNN) – How do you win over members of a group who may not like some things you stand for? You court them.

In the case of a national Republican group reaching out to the nation's Latinos, it doesn't hurt if that courtship includes a huge political kiss.

That's essentially what many people are receiving at the inaugural Hispanic Leadership Network Conference in Florida. Between Thursday and Friday, prominent national Republicans-like current Florida Gov. Rick Scott, his predecessor Jeb Bush, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty – will tell the nation's Hispanics: don't abandon the GOP.

"This is not about politics, this is about the conservative cause," Bush told a small but supportive crowd at the conference kickoff at the swank Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. "And if you look over the horizon over the next 10 to 20 years…without the active involvement of Hispanics, we will not be the governing philosophy of our country."

Bush stressed that his party's philosophy centered on limited government, lower taxes, education reform and maintaining U.S. competitive edge – all items, he said, that makes the GOP a natural home for Hispanics.

CNN asked Florida's current governor if the conference is a tacit admission that Hispanics are either leaving the GOP or turned off by many of its policies:

"The Hispanic community clearly believes in the Republican principles," Scott replied. "The principle that family is important. The principle that… we all care about, Hispanics care about religion. They care about building businesses. They focus on the same things I'm focused on: limited government, making sure we don't kill jobs through regulation, through too large a government."

While conference speakers are placing heavy emphasis on areas where Republicans and Hispanics agree, few people are talking about areas where they do not.

For example, the DREAM Act would have offered legal standing to immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children – under the age of 16 – and have lived in the country for at least five years. Hispanic groups strongly urged its passage. But the measure recently went down in Senate defeat, largely due to Republican objections that the bill amounted to "amnesty."

Equally divisive are fresh efforts from a large group of Republican state lawmakers who want to stop the children of illegal immigrants - born in the U.S. - from becoming U.S. citizens. Many people point to the 14th Amendment's guarantee of U.S. citizenship to any person born in the United States.

Many Latinos staunchly oppose the efforts of the Republican lawmakers. Clarrissa Martinez, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, recently told CNN that such efforts represent "a new generation of Jim Crow laws."

More broadly, many Latino groups urge passage of a fair, comprehensive immigration reform plan. But many Republican detractors recently blasted attempts at that, citing staunch opposition to granting illegal immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

It's likely that those issues help give Democrats a voting edge with Hispanics. In 2010, national exit polls show Latinos making up eight-percent of the electorate – with six out of 10 voting for Democrats.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll from July of last year, 57-percent of Hispanics said Democrats agreed on issues that Hispanics care about. Only 32-percent of that group felt the same about Republicans. And in that same poll, 56-percent of Hispanics said the GOP is doing a bad job of reaching out to African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.

Speakers and participants of the Hispanic Leadership Network conference are not lost on those numbers.

In a recent Miami-Herald op-ed, Bush called on conservatives to do better at reaching out to Hispanics. He noted several wins by Latinos in the recent midterm election.

Then former Florida governor wrote, "Despite this success among candidates, conservatives continue to get unacceptably low support among Hispanic voters nationally." Bush noted that "center-right candidates have failed to win more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally since 2004."

"While the reason for such low numbers is debatable, the way to turn them around is clear: a long-term commitment to outreach and better articulation of our values by conservative leaders."

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. GL

    Hypocrites – they are just pounding to get their votes for 2012, but really objection too any type of amnesty for them. They will use you just like they used Michael Steele.

    January 14, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Dave Jaipersaud

    Do these guys think people are fools and too dumb to think for themselves. Have they not been listening to themselves over the last 2 years? All the GOP has preached is intolerance against immigrants. They voted against the Dream Act, they constantly talk and/or insinuate deportation of immigrants. Just look at the intolerance in Texas, Arizona and other GOP controlled states.

    I urge all immigrants to abandon the GOP. The GOP grass root supporters (the foundation of the GOP) is opposed to the idea of immigrants (people who are not like them) in the US. Immigrants are the backbone of this country and the GOP base cannot stand it. So my fellow immigrants, supporting the GOP is supporting those that want to throw you out of this country. Any immigrant that voted or plan to vote for the GOP, voted or will vote against their own self interest.

    January 14, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Action speaks louder than words. Go to a GOP gathering and count the number of minority faces in the audience. Listen to the numerous speakers denouncing legislation helping immigrants attain citizenship. GOP outreach to Hispanics is disingenuous and hollow.

    January 14, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Mike in NC

    It is humorous to be lectured about discriminatory "Jim Crow" legislation from a group calling itself "The Race". How about following the laws that we have on the books. The 14th amendment was added to assure slaves and children of slaves can be extended the rights that US citizens during the transition after the Civil War. This amendment has been basterdized over the years to be used for anyone who can time delivery on US soil. Let's solidify the border and enforce the laws on the books, including fines for employers using illegal immigrants to keep pay scales low. Mexicans are hard working, family oriented people and as long as they come here like my immigrant parents...legally, I have no problem including these fine people into the fabric of America.

    January 14, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. Norma

    What a big joke. Our home is only with the GOP during elections. After that, they don't need to "court" us anymore. GOP and deep pockets go hand in hand. GOP will always court the rich because that's who back pocket their hands are in.

    January 14, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Tulsa

    RRrrrriiiiiiggghhhttt........ Hispanics should be Republicans because they didn't want the Dream act. Or meaningful immegration reform......

    And since when don't Democrats care about family, education, religion, etc....? Once again, Republicans throw bombs and tell LIES.

    Nice try, but I think the Hispanic community is smarter than that.

    January 14, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. Dnick47

    These are the same GOP'ers who support very restrictive rights for Hispanics cause they may be illegals and the ones who would dent Hispanic children born in the country citizenship because their parents(s) meybe illegals... Any of you Hispanics who buy that the Republicans care for you need serious psychological testing and treatment for your dillusional tendiencies.

    January 14, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. Dolce21

    Being of born Mexican/American 8th generation, I would be conservative all the way. Don't want this great land of USA, being misused in anyway. I was born here, raised here, and will die here, love this country!. Documents of original family member being given citizenship still in possession of great Aunt, back then, it was not required to pass a test, just health test, and money of course 35.00 which was a good amount in those days. Paper old and yellowing, but still legible.

    January 14, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Michael G

    what they do not realize is most current hispanics living in the US are low to middle income you will not find them in the swank Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables other than as employees, while the core conservative principles, I even agree with it they find it hard to support most of the republican party as they go beyond being conservative in pushing a religious agenda that goes against conservate principles.............that is where they lose the hispanics and many others

    January 14, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. Nadeem

    The GOP:
    Let is demonize you to satisfy our base, but please vote for us because you have families?
    Sorry to inform you but many dems are fiscal conservatives with families.

    January 14, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. John

    By definition the 'Latino' vote will prefer bi-lingual candidates. Heck, I do, and I don't know much of Spanish. I prefer it in order to have effective communicators to connect disparate peoples, even though I won't understand them half the time. So, Republicans, how many bi-lingual candidates have you got?

    January 14, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. marie md

    Hispanics, those who can vote and grew up or were born here, are not stupid. Good luck rethugs

    January 14, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Now how will this conference square with CPAC where they will lament the fact that they have to count on the votes of women, Hispanics and Blacks to win any national office ever again? The Cubans have no problem as the older generation still hopes for a restoration of the graft and corruption they enjoyed under the Batista administration. Did anyone ever tell them that it was the CIA during the Eisenhower administration that trained Castro to be destabalize that regime? Unfortunately, he was a little more successful than they realized he would be!

    January 14, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  14. Whatever

    I hope that hispanics will demand to see results from Republician party by at least coming 1/2 on issues important to them rather than saying what they will do. Action speaks louder than words (Acción habla más que las palabras)!!

    January 14, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. chill

    There are center-right Republican candidates? I must have missed him. And tell me how most of the GOP is family-friendly when they demonize the illegal immigrants who had the courage and gumption to come to this country in search of a safer and better life for their families? I get that it is illegal, but what would we do if our situations were similar? Until the GOP gets on board and supports a comprehensive solution that sets a series of hurdles for current illegals to cross on their way to citizenship and retains these energetic, family -oriented people as Bush rightly describes them, then the GOP won't get much Hispanic support. You can't demonize people and then expect that they or those that share their heritage will support you in turn. Not as long as Tancredo is the face of the GOP on immigration issues.

    January 14, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. a6102658

    Good luck with that!
    I know many Hispanics and don't understand the hatred that gets rekindled every time the elections get near it, they feel like they the "Punching bag" of republicans even if the election's issues are not about Hispanics, they always manage to bring the issue into the race.
    Most of the hate is based on ignorance and fear.

    January 14, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Gadzooks

    ""This is not about politics, this is about the conservative cause," Bush told a small but supportive crowd at the conference kickoff at the swank Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. "

    Says it all right there...

    January 14, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. CathyinAZ

    That's a joke!!!!

    January 14, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. rob e rob

    Interesting coincidence. Multiple Florida Republican state legislators filed bills last week to toughen immigration rules and checks. Then early this week they backed away/withdrew those bills saying the timing may not be right and there could be unintended consequences to those actions. Regardless of the particular reason, it's encouraging to see that "unintended consequenses" is at least creeping into the considerations in policy development.

    January 14, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. Margie

    Well well do they think Hispanics are stupid. Look at how they have been treated by the GOP and then tell them that.

    January 14, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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