Sunday, December 5, 2010

Minority outreach

At the The Americano's first forum, Newt Gingrich "nam[ed] incoming New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez as an example of a Republican candidate who is a 'law and order conservative' who 'also understood her ability to go out and campaign in the community and to be sympathetic.'"

While Martinez had an obvious advantage in speaking to the Hispanic community, plenty of other Republicans, such as Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, have done a great job at opening a dialogue with Hispanics and other minority groups. And if the Republican Party is going to be a majority party, they need to speak to those groups more. That doesn't mean offer better handouts than the Democrats; it means understanding what issues they care about and offer better opportunities.

As McDonnell put it himself in an interview with Gingrich months back:
First, I realized just looking at the demographics and long-term projections of increasing diversity in Virginia and America that if we conservatives and Republicans don’t do a better job with outreach to minorities and New Americans we are going to be a permanent minority party....We started a year out building coalitions and identifying key leaders in the Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic communities -- even the Cambodian and Pakistani communities -- and I just started being present. I really felt that the issue of job creation and economic development is one that transcends nationality and ethnic origin. No matter how they voted in the past, if I was there early and often talking about the issues, it would help. Particularly in the Asian community where you have so many small business people and entrepreneurs who are very much in sync with the Republican ideas of limited government and free enterprise.

The other thing we did that was very practical was that we translated bumper stickers into about 12 different languages, into Tagalog, Spanish and Chinese. We had big banners that had our message in those languages. We also got Congressman Cao to come campaign with me and that helped create a bond with the Vietnamese community and we did very well in that community....

I think again it was me not just assuming that they were going to be on the other side....Never assume that just because somebody has a long-term record of supporting the Democrats that there aren’t issues more important than political affiliation. Right now, people who are leaders in the business community are really concerned about overly intrusive federal policies. They’re concerned about the movement of the Democratic Party to more taxes, more regulation, more litigation and more unionization. I think even a conservative, pro-business Republican making a pitch to a long-term Democrat on these free enterprise issues has a shot in this environment.
McDonnell also made the same point about young voters -- whom he did very well with -- that simply showing up on campuses and not ceding any single vote went a long way.

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