Republicans still a hard sell for Latinos
In a strange way, the ascension of Newt Gingrich in the race for the Republican nomination for president began with a comment he made about immigration at the CNN-sponsored debate last month.
“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter-century,” he said. “And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, ‘Let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality.’”
Just weeks after then-candidate Herman Cain had been “joking” about installing electrified fences along the border of Mexico, and in stark contrast to most of his Republican peers’ staunch opposition to “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, Gingrich came across as someone who seemed to have a moral conscience about the issue.
Gingrich’s approach to Latinos comes straight from the lips of conservative patriarch Ronald Reagan, who in 1980 said, “Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” The idea is that Latinos’ strong family orientation and religious values make them natural Republicans.
Gingrich’s bilingual website, theamericano.com, reflects this strategy. It recently touted, for example, a Spanish-language translation of an essay on American exceptionalism provided by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the naming of Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to the board of the conservative Gov. Brian Sandoval, and the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico.
Gingrich has also strongly promoted emerging Latino Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the austerity-championing governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno.
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