Despite recent setbacks, Republicans can appeal to Latinos and other minorities by emphasizing basic conservative policies that promote economic growth and "shared values," says a prominent GOP strategist.
Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, says the GOP should launch a strong effort to appeal to minority constituencies across the country. "Making an effort to get those votes is half the battle," he says.
Gillespie, who advised Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and was also a senior White House adviser to President George W. Bush, is scheduled to announce on Wednesday the expansion of the Future Majority Caucus, a group dedicated to recruiting and encouraging a new generation of conservative politicians in the minority community. It's part of a broader effort by GOP leaders to invigorate their party and widen its appeal.
Gillespie is scheduled to host a media conference call Wednesday to describe the minority-oriented initiative. He is to be joined by Republican Governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.
Gillespie says his group seeks to recruit conservative Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and other minorities to run for state legislative seats across the country, which he called "the first step on the political escalator." Gillespie tried a similar effort in advance of the 2012 political cycle but its success was very limited.
Beyond this, Romney did poorly among Latinos and other minorities, and the Republican party is widely considered insensitive or opposed to Latino priorities such as immigration reform, according to public opinion polls.
Gillespie says part of the problem is that the GOP has been defined too much by what it is against. "We need more of a clarion call on what we're for," such as less government, lower taxation, and individual freedom, he says.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.