Republicans Endorse Immigration Reform, Plan Minority Outreach

The Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced the release of a 100-page prescription for how the Republican Party should better reach minority voters, with one notable policy recommendation: comprehensive immigration reform.

Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, talks up his new initiative to reach minority voters. Go here to see Priebus' full, hour-long speech.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chariman Reince Priebus announced the release of a 100-page report on how the GOP can return to prominence, after a bad beating in the 2012 election. Priebus calls it an "autopsy," and gave the depressingly familiar battle cry: "we're done with business as usual."
Topping the list of prescriptions: comprehensive immigration reform and a 50-state outreach program to minority voters. Immigration reform is among the only policies mentioned within the 100 pages on messaging, making it clear that the RNC believes the Republicans need to do this to reach minority voters. After an election in which Mitt Romney won only 27% of the Hispanic vote and 26% of the Asian/Pacific Islander vote, it would be political suicide to have Democrats be the only party pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. What exactly that entails is very much an open-question, at least within the Republican Party. There is a pragmatist vs. hard-liners debate among Republicans over whether immigration reform should include a pathway to citizenship (or "amnesty" as its detractors call it). While a package including a pathway to citizenship is likely to pass the senate one of these months, if there is enough anti-amnesty rancor on the right, it could make it difficult for such a bill to make it through the Republican-controlled House, which would redouble their difficulties messaging to Hispanics and other minorities.

Speaking of messaging, that's the focus of the rest of the RNC document:

"If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanicks think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies."

"Self-deportation" is not a randomly chosen example: it was Mitt Romney's immigration policy. The document's recommendations go far beyond this, because, according to Priebus, "there's no one reason we lost." Fortunately, they provided this handy graphic to explain the RNC's new minority outreach program:

Get the visual metaphor? All minorities fit under the GOP umbrella. It's all pretty straightforward campaign stuff, but it's more focused on grassroots than most GOP initiatives. The most curious one to me is the "Swearing-In Ceremony Events" (lower right red box, second from the top). The document elaborates in its bullet point recommendations: "Establish swearing-in citizenship teams to introduce new citizens after naturalization ceremonies to the Republican Party." The Republican Party intends to host parties (or ceremonies) for new U.S. citizens. It's not necessarily a bad outreach idea, but it also reaks of blatant political calculus: now that you are a citizen, you are valuable to us.

All in all, the RNC's plan will be challenging to execute, but, as a general strategy, seems well thought out. If they go through with it, they may finally know the answer to the question of whether they have a messaging problem, or is it just that their policies are too politically toxic for minorities.

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