Thursday, July 18, 2024

Latino Courtship Poses Challenge for Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is gearing up to announce  a presidential exploratory committee for the 2012 GOP primary election process.  But the Republican faces the challenge of courting the very voters his party has alienated with several anti-immigrant measures that the GOP supports around the country.

Though Gingrich has frequently stressed the need for the GOP to improve its outreach among Latinos, he may very well decide to skip over the immigration issue all together.

“If I was his adviser, I would just say, ‘Let’s call a truce on that one for now,’ ” Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who served with Gingrich in the House, said. “Immigration and illegal aliens are still a very, very hot topic. And people who will be voting in the Republican primary do not want to hear about any backdoor amnesty program.”

Gingrich has also tried to entice conservatives, with his recent call to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and strident opposition to the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

Despite his efforts to make inroads with Latinos by creating The Americano, a bilingual news and opinion portal and highlighting the important contributions of Latinos to this country, some suggest his position on immigration will pose challenges especially among the “conservative talk-radio” crowd, since it has already earned him sharp disapproval in the right-wing blogosphere. La Plaza has extensively covered Gingrich’s ongoing efforts to reach out and engage Latinos.

During an interview with The Hill, Gingrich said, “I’m just going to ask them a simple question: They’re going to take somebody who came here at 3 years of age, who doesn’t speak Spanish and who just graduated from a high school in Texas, and they’re going to say to him, ‘We’re going to deport you.’

“That’s certainly their prerogative. I don’t think the country will go for that. I think that’s so lax in a concern for the human beings involved.”

But the former head of House GOP members doesn’t back away from critics accusing him of being too easy on the issue of illegal immigration, and cites high emphasis on securing the border first, a position that may prove costly in several early vote states.

“I am deeply committed to securing the border,” Gingrich said. “I am deeply committed to changing the deportation rules for felons and gang members. … But I also think we have a huge challenge — what do you do with the human beings who are engaged, some of whom are married, have children? It’s a very complicated situation, and I don’t you think you can just wave a magic wand and have some kind of a simple, clean answer.”

Many influential GOP operatives including former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, have warned conservatives to tone down their anti-immigrant messaging, if they are to successfully court the Latino vote in 2012.

The Hill