January 20, 2011

THE GREAT RED HOPE:

Jeb Bush and Latino Outreach (Ruben Navarrette, 1/19/11, RCP)

Bush recently told Univision's Jorge Ramos -- in impeccable Spanish -- that while it's easy to focus on GOP opposition to immigration reform, "we should also recognize that Democrats don't want to resolve this either." Bush accused President Obama of wanting "to create a wedge to win votes." Asked by Ramos if he thought immigration reform isn't a priority for Obama and Democrats, Bush fired back: "It's a political priority."

But Bush was equally blunt in criticizing his own party. When Ramos asked if he thought Republicans had come down too hard on immigrants and Latinos, Bush admitted: "Some Republicans have not behaved well in that aspect."

There are fences to be mended. And that's one of the goals of the Hispanic Leadership Network, an organization that wants to connect the nation's burgeoning Hispanic community and the "center-right movement." It staged its inaugural conference in Miami, and I was invited to participate on a media panel.

Bush co-chaired the conference along with former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Another organizer of the event was former Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, CEO of the American Action Network, the conservative Washington-based political action group that founded the HLN.

Having spent most of his life around the Hispanic community -- including having been married to Mexican-born Columba Garnica Gallo de Bush for more than 35 years -- Bush believes that most Hispanics are center-right. And so, he told Ramos, Republicans "need to have a conversation" with Latinos because of their shared values.

Bush told the gathering that, because of the growth of the Latino population nationwide, it would be "incredibly stupid" for the Republican Party to ignore these votes.

Frankly, Governor, "ignoring" would be a step up in GOP-Hispanic relations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2011 5:55 AM
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