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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP Leaders Squirm Over Immigrant-Bashing

Pacific News Service’s Earl Ofari Hutchison has an interesting post over at AlternetWhy Republicans Will Cave on Immigration Reform,” which should be of interest to Democratic strategists. Hutchison argues that the rational Republicans will win the day and send their xenophobic brethren sputtering away. He makes some good points, including:

Latino evangelicals, both legal and illegal immigrants, make up about one-fourth of the membership of evangelical churches in America, and their numbers are growing…Latino evangelicals flexed their political muscle in March when they forced several prominent national evangelical groups to back-peddle fast from their hard-nosed stance on immigration reform.


Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie was one of the first to sound the alarm bell. In a Wall Street Journal editorial in April, he firmly put the GOP on notice that it must not become known as the anti-immigrant party. Gillespie crunched the numbers and noted that Republicans can’t win in 2008 without the key swing states of New Mexico, Florida, Colorado and Nevada, which Bush won in 2004.
Bush and the Republicans fix their political eye on more than Latino population numbers and votes. They also see Latinos’ dollars. In politics money doesn’t talk, it screams. The disposable income of Latinos soared to nearly $1 trillion during the 1990s and continues to climb. Credit card, shipping and communications companies, trade and tourist associations, hotels, airlines and sports franchises are now feverishly marketing products to snatch a bigger share of Latinos’ dollars. Republican campaign officials will do the same.

Hutchison may be right about the course the GOP leaders will chose. Even so, the GOP’s internal division should be good for Democratic candidates. And it may be too little too late for Republian leaders to save the day, because serious damage to the GOP’s Hispanic outreach has already been done, and politically-aware Latinos know that the latest wave of immigrant-bashing did not originate from Democrats.