Welcome to the Republican Party’s latest campaign: the Kiss-and-Make-Up-with-Hispanics initiative.
It’s not an officially sanctioned activity of the GOP. But at least some Republicans are trying to mend fences with Hispanic voters so as to improve the party’s prospects in 2012 and beyond.
This is one of the major goals behind the Hispanic Leadership Network, a new organization that wants to act as a bridge between Hispanics and the “center-right movement.” It recently held its inaugural conference in Miami, and I was invited to participate as part of a media panel.
The event was co-chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – who has spent most of his life around Hispanics. That includes being married for nearly four decades to Mexican-born Columba Garnica Gallo de Bush.
Bush raised eyebrows when he told those gathered at the conference that, because of the phenomenal growth of the Hispanic community, it would be “incredibly stupid” for Republicans to ignore the Hispanic vote.
Come to think of it, it would be even more stupid for Republicans to continue to do what they do now: antagonize Hispanics by using them as piñatas to entertain white constituents – or, worse, portraying them as bogey men to scare up votes. This is the modus operandi for too many in the GOP. They reach for low-hanging fruit by pursuing non-Hispanics and,they think, the best way to do that is to use Hispanics as a convenient foil. (more…)