Many Republican operatives and candidates say the Latino vote is important, but few do anything substantial to win the respect of Latinos. The standard operating procedure for the many in the GOP has been to start paying attention to Hispanics three months out from election day with occasional appearances and badly translated messages from their staffs, usually lacking anyone of Hispanic heritage.
But this is not the case for Newt Gingrich. Over the last few years the former House Speaker has made it a priority to understand, and gain respect, from the Latino community. Gingrich has hosted conference, speaks Spanish, regularly contributes Spanish OpEds on policy issues and launched a multi-media bilingual site for Hispanic called TheAmericano.com.
Politico writes about Newt Gingrich’s efforts in “Newt Gingrich’s 2012 immigration dance.” Politico writes, “Of the top Republican prospects for 2012, Gingrich leads in Latino outreach.” The piece states:
He recently attended a Texas conference on strengthening Latino and Jewish dialogue, and regularly publishes op-eds in Spanish. On a Tax Day conference call with tea party activists earlier this month, Gingrich called on Republicans to fight the “anti-Hispanic” label.
“We need to reach out to everybody who wants to work hard, everybody who wants to earn a living, everybody who believes in the classic traditional values,” he said. “And certainly that’s much of the Hispanic American community.”
Gingrich launched “The Americano,” a bilingual news website for Latino conservatives, and in December hosted a two-day forum featuring prominent Latino politicians, religious figures and business leaders. There he declared, “We are not going to deport 11 million people. There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.”…
…“He’s doing something very smart — he’s doing it early,” said Ana Navarro, who served as national co-chair of McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council. “All of these guys need to understand you can’t show up and ask for the Hispanic vote three months before [the general] election. It’s got to start now.”
Lionel Sosa, who has consulted seven Republican presidential campaigns on Hispanic issues, praised Gingrich for being “upfront” on immigration.
“He is far and away the most attractive Republican candidate for Latinos,” Sosa said. “He is thoughtful. He has looked into the issue. He understands it, and he feels there is a way to solve the problem.”
Gingrich has an interesting road ahead of him, balancing his courtship of Latinos, with his courtship of extreme immigration hard-liners.