GOP 2012 Hopefuls Turning Their Back On Hispanic Voters?

Inexplicably, most of the potential GOP candidates for President in 2012 are turning down an offer to appear at a political conference aimed at appealing to Hispanic voters:

It was billed, in part, as a forum for the 2012 Republican presidential field to speak directly to Hispanics — a replica of the vaunted Conservative Political Action Conference, but tailored to the fastest-growing slice of the electorate.

Yet, when former Gov. Jeb Bush, former Sen. Norm Coleman and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez open the first Hispanic Leadership Network conference next month in Miami, the only potential presidential candidate confirmed to attend — so far — is Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined the invite. So did South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Texas Gov Rick Perry.

Newt Gingrich is “amenable” to attending but hasn’t committed yet, his spokesman said.

And others in the group, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, didn’t respond to inquiries from POLITICO.

A poor showing could raise doubts about the commitment of Republicans to court Hispanics, one of the open-ended questions of the 2012 presidential cycle.

Jim Landry, spokesman for the American Action Network, which created the Hispanic group, said the organizers extended invites to the entire presidential field, but it was never the main reason for holding the conference.

The confirmed speakers includes Pawlenty, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott, Republican powerbroker Fred Malek and former Bush adviser Dana Perino, who will address immigration, media, messaging, jobs, trade and education.

“It’s an Hispanic forum, it’s not a presidential forum,” Landry said. “We would really like to keep the focus on reaching out to the Hispanic community and communicating the center-right message. That aspect was never really the focus of our agenda.”

Nonetheless, it isn’t a good sign of the willingness of these candidates to appear to the fastest growing minority group in the country, and one that is becoming a powerful voting bloc in California, Texas, and Florida, which account for 122 Electoral Votes under the new Census apportionment.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Andyman says:

    “A poor showing could raise doubts about the commitment of Republicans to court Hispanics”

    Those doubts just might be raised at some point in the next two years.

  2. Pug says:

    When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the electorate was 86% non-Latino white. When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the electorate was 68% non-Latino white.

    That trend is continuing as a quick look at the percentage of Latino elementary school students in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas will tell you. Those kids are almost all citizens, even if their parents aren’t, and they will be voting within fifteen years.

    Republicans might want to think twice about alienating them.

  3. MM says:


  4. MarkedMan says:

    Together, blacks and Hispanics make up almost a third of the electorate. Republicans have written off blacks and now they are writing off Hispanics? It’s a good thing for them that they have control of redistricting in so many states. They can create push them all into one or two districts and save their white asses.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    “It’s a good thing for them that they have control of redistricting in so many states. They can create push them all into one or two districts and save their white asses.”

    While it is possible that this may help them win Congressional seats, how will this gerrymandering help them win statewide offices not to mention the presidency…

  6. Tlaloc says:

    More to the point all those states that just gained seats did so because of increases in hispanics, not the wasps the GOP counts on. If the tancredo wing of the GOP isn’t smacked down pretty hard there will come a point where texas is in play. Not next presidential election or the one after but in 10 years?

  7. An Interested Party says:

    re: Tlaloc Thursday, December 23, 2010 20:42

    This speaks directly to the fear that people like superdestroyer and TangoMan (when he used to post comments here) show when they talk about minorities…it seems like certain people are quite terrified of what will happen when white people are no longer the majority in this country…if the members of the GOP as a whole don’t modify how they seemingly treat issues related to the Hispanic population, Republicans will be the ones with the true fear…

  8. Mr. Prosser says:

    A question; Is holding the forum in Miami alienating various geographic Hispanic groups? Cuban-Americans are known to be conservative and part of the political structure, but Spanish speaking immigrants and their children from Mexico and Central America are not part of the conservative force. Are the organizers deliberately ignoring the residents of California, Texas and the southern and midwestern states?

  9. superdestroyer says:

    Anyone who believes that Hipsanics will ever vote for the more conservative party is a fool. Hispanics vote for very liberal politicans with the most liberal Congressman in Congress being a militant La Raza Democrat from Arizona.

    To appeal to Hispanics means massive pandering and abandoning the idea of being conservative. Hispanics want high taxes, high spending, ethnic set asides, and separate treatment for being Hispanic. Any conservtive who believes that Hispanics are the least bit interested in fiscal responsbility, individual responsbility, and smaller government is an idiot.