Republican Candidates Avoiding Biggest Latino Conference

Republican Candidates Avoiding Biggest Latino Conference July 11, 2015

For years now, the Republican leadership and party professionals have recognized that they had to do better with Latino voters if they want to be viable in presidential elections. But with immigration a major political issue and their candidates taking mostly xenophobic positions, no wonder none of their candidates will attend the nation’s largest Latino political conference.

If the GOP thinks they’re going to win more Hispanic voters in 2016, they appear to have decided that speaking at large gatherings of Latino leaders isn’t the way to go. None of the 2016 candidates will address the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza — the largest Latino advocacy group — being held next week in Kansas City, Missouri, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Republicans have long contended that winning Hispanics is key to winning the White House, as Latinos are the fastest growing constituency in the country. And President Barack Obama was able to secure his victory thanks to winning the Hispanic vote by a more than 36 point margin in 2008 and 44 point margin in 2012.

A La Raza spokesman told the WSJ that all of the 2016 hopefuls were invited and that none of the Republicans opted to attend. Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley both accepted the invitation to speak at a lunch event with the conference. And Bernie Sanders, who originally had a conflict, will also be in attendance. It seems unlikely all 17 declared and soon-to-be-declared GOP candidates had conflicts for the four-day conference.

In 2012, the Republicans lost the Latino vote by a 44 point margin. After that election, they held a special strategy session and issued a report on how they can do better. The primary message of that report was that the party must embrace comprehensive immigration reform and stop the racist and xenophobic rhetoric that had so often hampered their ability to reach out to Latino voters in the past. But they can’t seem to get their actual candidates and legislators to get on board with that.

We’ve got Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and most of the other Republican candidates going in the exact opposite direction. Of course they aren’t going to show up at the La Raza conference, they’d get booed and it would be a political disaster. The only one who could possibly appear there and not leave humiliated is Jeb Bush (maybe Rand Paul too, depending on which position he feels like taking today on immigration; he’s been all over the map, as has Rubio).

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  • raven

    The GOP said after losing the 2012 election that they had to do better with women and Latinos.

    They then ignored their own advice.

    1. A woman voting GOP is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.

    2. Trump has made headlines by insulting Mexicans and their many US descendants, some who were here before the USA was even the USA.

    He is one of the leading GOP candidates according to the polls right now.

    The mystery isn’t why most Latinos vote Democratic. The mystery is why any of them vote GOP.

    3. White xians are a minority in 19 states including some of the largest. The party of the white Oogedy Boogedy fundie perversion of xianity should have problems with elections. Oddly enough, so far this hasn’t translated into losing elections. They do control both the US House and Senate and most governorships.

  • garnetstar

    The Republican candidates’ base is so xenophobic that even showing up at the conference would set the voters viciously against them. Even if a candidate showed up and gave a stern speech about how immigration has to stop, their merely being there would be taken as tacit approval of Latinos. And, because the xenophobes not only are against further immigration, but also resent all who might have immigrated, no matter how legally and how many generations ago, merely acknowledging their existence and their right to have their political concerns addressed, would be anethema.

  • tfkreference

    The only attraction to Latinos that I can see (as a very white Minnesotan) is on social positions that align with the Catholic Church. Yesterday, I heard a bit of a show on a Catholic talk radio station about how Latino legislators in California are blocking what’s happening there related to death with dignity.

    I personally know many Catholics who, because of their opposition to abortion, use complex rationalizations to support other Republican positions. I don’t know the validity of the perception of Latino religiosity; I do, however, agree with Hitchens that religion poisons everything.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Why don’t they show up at the largest Latino conference?

    They don’t want to get raped.


  • Republican Candidates Avoiding Biggest Latino Conference

    To be fair, you’d avoid it too. Those conferences are chaos, with all those giant Latinos running around.

  • dingojack

    Here‘s a article from FiveThirtyEight about Trump and Immigration. Note that although his rhetoric plays well with Republicans (63% reported that immigrants were a burden on the US, for example), it doesn’t play well with Democrats (32% reported the same) or Independents (36%).


  • D. C. Sessions

    Those conferences are chaos, with all those giant Latinos running around.

    And calves like cantaloupes. Why do they need cattle at a conference, anyway?

  • D. C. Sessions

    Dingo, that’s the point: They have no need for Democrats or Independents in the primaries, but will succeed or fail based 100% on appeal to the base. As for the general election, they are counting turnout. Which again goes back to support among the Republican base.

    Besides, a lot of those so-called “independents” have voted for the same party for their entire lives.

  • busterggi

    Attend that meeting = why that’s just asking for ebola!

  • anat

    The main reason the Republicans still have their current level of success is because their main demographic of older white people has high turn-out. To get representation closer to where the public stands we need to get the vote out among younger people and various minorities.

  • John Pieret

    Just consider the state of the Republican party … even Hispanic candidates, like Cruz and Rubio, and Jeb!, married to a Hispanic woman and a fluent Spanish speaker, don’t dare to attend the nation’s largest Latino political conference.

  • @garnetstar

    Replace “immigrant” with “brown person” to be more accurate. They don’t have a lot of trouble with white immigrants. It’s not xenophobia as much as it is flat-out racism.

  • LightningRose

    Repuglicans are scorpions – they just can’t help it.

  • Childermass

    Jeb might have missed an opportunity, Sure xenophobic vote might be bigger, but it would have been split 16 ways. It might have been worth a roll of the dice.

    Lets not forget that last time we many not-Mitts going for the nomination. If they had simply drawn straws, one of them would have gotten the nomination with ease. But with the far-right not-Mitts all splitting the votes, Romney got the nomination.

  • Synfandel

    @14 Childermass wrote:

    Jeb might have missed an opportunity…

    It’s too soon for Jeb. Before the primaries, he has to pander to the xenophobic base of the party. After he secures the candidacy and is going after the wider voting population, he can play his fluent-Spanish-speaking and married-to-a-Hispanic cards to woo the Latino vote.

  • Trebuchet

    The main reason the Republicans still have their current level of success is because their main demographic of older white people has high turn-out. To get representation closer to where the public stands we need to get the vote out among younger people and various minorities.

    I’m an older white people. The older I get, the lefter I go. And I always vote. But what you say is not incorrect, just overbroad.

    Votes by minorities, however, are always fraudulent. Ask any Republican.

  • eric

    Jeb might have missed an opportunity

    Nope, he (in fact most of the other candidates) are playing it fairly well: say nothing and let Trump get people pissed off about Trump. If he stakes out a position, he risks either angering the base now or looking like a hypocritical panderer later. So better to waffle until its absolutely necessary to say something.

    In this respect immigration is no different than any other issue: many politicians will try to say nothing substantive at all so that they don’t piss anyone off.