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GOP Hispanic Conference Highlights Deep Denial on Immigration

by Frank Sharry on 01/14/2011 at 6:17pm

Today, in Miami, the Republican-backed Hispanic Leadership Network hosted a conference to “provide a unique opportunity for center-right leaders to speak with—and more importantly listen to—the Hispanic community,” according to conference co-chair Jeb Bush.

Early in the day, Bush stated:

It would be incredibly stupid [for the Republican Party] to ignore the burgeoning Hispanic vote.

Given the anti-immigrant rhetoric that emanates from so many GOP leaders these days, however, it won’t be a simple matter to win these voters back.

As a new America’s Voice memo makes clear, Republican leadership is stuck in a deep rut of denial and inflexibility when it comes to Latino outreach and their party’s position on immigration.  They seem to think that taking up kinder, gentler “rhetoric” and reaching out on “common values”—instead of revisiting their party’s extreme immigration policies—will do the trick.

One panelist at the conference, conservative syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, made this very point quite passionately at this afternoon’s panel on media and messaging. From a live blog of the conference:

Update – 2:55 PM:  Navarrette: “If you come away thinking that this is all about language and tone, you will miss the point… You are always going to be number 2… The problem is not the tone. It is the message itself—it is offensive, racist. You’ve got to fix the product.”  […]

Commentator Alex Castellanos, Sr. disagrees. He appears to believe that a majority of Latinos agree with the Republican Party on immigration policy.

Helen Aguirre disagrees with Castellanos: “Jeb Bush is the only one who challenged Tom Tancredo. If the [majority of the] Republican Party disagrees but keeps quiet…”

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