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This week, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, held their annual conference and invited all Presidential candidates.
Here’s a short summary of what happened: President Obama showed up. The entire Republican field did not.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, we don’t shy away from putting pressure on the President when it comes to immigration. The audience in the ballroom where he was speaking wasn’t easy on him either. When he once again offered his analysis about why he can’t do more to reform enforcement, the crowd interrupted with a chant, exclaiming “Yes, You Can!”
At a meetup with bloggers on Sunday afternoon, NCLR’s President Janet Murguia revealed that her organization had invited all GOP candidates for President. Murguia said:
I will tell you, I’m extremely disappointed that not one of the Republican candidates for President, who we invited, has taken up our offer to come and speak directly to our community.
You know — we don’t agree with the President on every issue, but he’s chosen to come and be present and engage our community.
She added, “But, I will tell you that i am very proud that [Obama] has chosen NCLR to come and speak directly to our community especially when we’ve not received one acceptance from any one of the Republican candidates.”
So why, when Latinos are the fastest growing voting demographic in the country, did candidates forgo an opportunity to introduce themselves to these voters? Perhaps it’s because their policy platform to date has basically been for them to “GET OUT.”
In fact, despite claims yesterday by RNC Chair Reince Priebus that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) would dazzle Latino voters with his complexion, the party still prefers to get its strategy advice on Latino voters from Rep. Lamar Smith, and not from well respected pollsters who know a thing or two about the Latino electorate like Latino Decisions. They recently found:
This topic is so significant that 51% of Latino voters consider the immigration issue (comprehensive reform, the DREAM Act) as the most important issue currently facing their community. On the other hand, 35% said the most important issues were the economy and creating jobs. Education came in third at 18%.
And then there was the straw poll from the NCLR conference:
Immigration overwhelmingly trumps both the economy and education as the most important issue for Latinos, according to a recent poll of 547 supporters and attendees at the 2011 NCLR Annual Conference. Almost half (45 percent) of all respondents chose immigration as the top issue, as opposed to jobs and the economy (25 percent), education (21 percent), and health care (6 percent).
But despite the facts, RNC Chair Priebus “dismissed the idea that the party’s support among Latinos will be hurt over immigration,” according to the Associated Press, saying, “It’s not going to hurt us one bit. Obviously we’re going to focus in on the economy, which transcends all background.”
At NCLR, Obama restated his support for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, policies that Sen. Rubio and other Republicans in Congress continuously oppose. The fact that no Republican candidates showed up to speak to the audience at NCLR, combined with Preibus’ cluelessness, paint a telling picture of where the party will be with Latino voters next year: absolutely nowhere.