Lessons from 2010: GOP and Immigration

With the 2010 election cycle past us pundits, journalists and politicos alike are analyzing what went right and wrong – at the top of the list is immigration. Republicans are still trying to figure out how to communicate their strong position on immigration without pissing off the Latino community.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders takes on the subject in “The Right GOP Immigration Package.” California Republicans lost a lot of ground during the last election cycle – not one member of the GOP was elected to a state-wide office. Some blame the dismal showing by California Republicans on how the candidates communicated on the issue of immigration. Saunders looks at how Republicans talk about immigration and still have a positive Hispanic outreach plan.  I had the pleasure of being interviewed for her article. Read more below.

“Pundits and GOP biggies have a tendency to focus only on the ways the Arizona controversy hurt the GOP, and not on the toll the issue took on Obama nationwide. Recently, veteran Republican strategist Rob Stutzman told Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton that GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman lost big primarily because the issue of illegal immigration drove Latino voters to support Democrat Jerry Brown. Stutzman blamed Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who lost in the primary to Whitman, for pushing Whitman too far to the right on immigration.

Lo siento. (That’s Spanish for “I’m sorry.”) Non credo. (That’s Latin for “horsepuckey.”)

Republican Rick Scott won the Florida governor’s race with as much as 50 percent of the Latino vote, and he supported the Arizona law.

Bettina Inclan was a spokesperson for Poizner before she worked for Scott. As the daughter of a Cuban mother and Mexican father, Inclan is quite aware of the hurdles Republicans face when trying to woo Latino votes. But, as Scott proved, it can be done.

Scott helped himself by not changing his position on immigration. Inclan noted, “He always gave the same message – and he talked about the issues that were really important to everyone in Florida, which is jobs.”

And: “When we try to cater instead of tailoring, I think that’s the problem.” Rather than pander, a candidate needs to speak in a tone that conveys respect and commonality – not (these are my terms) condescension and opportunism.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/22/ED6N1GTNDM.DTL#ixzz1B1BvVtaY

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