RNC Chairman Reince Priebus trekked to Trump Tower yesterday to secure a “loyalty pledge” from the current GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump.
Priebus got what he wanted. Trump promised he won’t run as a third-party candidate if he loses and that he’ll support whoever ends up winning the Republican Presidential nomination. All other GOP candidates have either signed it or are signing it, too.
With Trump’s signature on that document and his pledge of fealty to the GOP, the Republican Party also secured Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist baggage.
The GOP is deep in the hole when it comes to Latino voters, and that’s putting it lightly. In 2004, George W. Bush — who famously said family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande — won the Latino vote by an astounding 44%. But by 2008, the party had torpedoed that showing to a dismal 27% after Latino voters rejected Mitt Romney’s ridiculous “self-deportation” policy. It was a 16-year low.
Leading pollsters Latino Decisions now estimate Republicans will need to reach the 47% threshold among Latino voters in order to recapture the White House in 2016.
Reince, at least for a while, appeared to be set to remedy the situation. Following Romney’s landslide defeat, he co-authored the 2013 RNC “autopsy report” that, among many other things, called for passage of comprehensive immigration reform and a halt to the party’s harsh anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric:
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming. President Bush got 44 percent of the Asian vote in 2004; our presidential nominee received only 26 percent in 2012.
As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home.”
We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.
In essence, Priebus and the RNC cut out this section of the autopsy and pasted in Trump’s call for mass deportation.
Gone is Reince’s pledge to re-win the ear of the Latino voter, replaced instead by a bearhug with a candidate who has promised to round up and deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, and among many other extreme measures, revoke birthright citizenship for the US-born children — “anchor babies,” is his preferred terminology — of undocumented immigrants.
Just a few weeks ago, Reince had reportedly called Trump to tone down his blatantly-racist rhetoric following his explosive claim that immigrants from Mexico are criminals and “rapists.” But by the end of August, Reince had basically walked back the sentiment, unbelievably telling a reporter that Trump — who has now garnered the support of multiple white nationalist leaders — was a “net positive” for the GOP.
Latino voters, a demographic Reince said himself his party must win back in order to remain viable as a national party, have in turn rewarded Trump with an 82% unfavorability rating. The question is how long before Trump spreads those “net positive” numbers to the rest of the GOP. We’ve already seen the “Trump Effect” in action, as other 2016 GOP candidates follow his lead towards more extreme positions on immigration.
Trump has already set the GOP’s immigration agenda. Now, he’s firmly entrenched as the party’s frontrunner — and a loyal Republican, thanks to the RNC pledge. He’s driving the GOP off a demographic cliff. Priebus thought he secured a “win” by securing Trump’s fealty to the GOP. In reality, he’s guaranteed long-term losses for the Republican Party.