GOP’s Demographic Wager: Courting Latino Candidates

Peter Wallsten
The Wall Street Journal

Some high-profile Republicans are adopting a softer vocabulary on immigration and trying to recruit more Hispanic candidates, a response to the party’s soul-searching about tactics that many strategists believe have alienated the country’s fastest-growing voter bloc.

In Texas, George P. Bush, the half Mexican-American son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has founded Hispanic Republicans of Texas, a political action committee to promote Hispanics running for state and local offices.

In California, GOP gubernatorial front-runner Meg Whitman, the former eBay Inc. chief executive officer, tells Hispanics she would have voted against a Republican-backed 1994 measure barring illegal immigrants from receiving social services.

And Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee and an opponent of past efforts to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, has been meeting with Hispanic leaders to find a new tone on that central point of contention between Hispanic groups and conservatives.

For Republicans, such efforts carry risks, especially as conservative activists try to push GOP candidates to be more ideologically pure. Opposition to “amnesty,” a buzzword used by critics of proposals to legalize the 12 million illegal immigrants believed to be living in the U.S., remains a reliable applause line.

Nonetheless, many in the party have concluded that opposition to immigration legislation, a debate that is sometimes racially charged, has alienated millions of otherwise conservative Hispanic voters.

The article continues at WSJ.

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