Rubio Is Right on Hispanic Outreach

Monday, 05 Mar 2012 11:59 AM

By Christopher Ruddy

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Christopher Ruddy's Perspective: A recent Time magazine cover story by Michael Scherer boldly headlines “Why Latinos will pick the next President.” After reading this excellent analysis, there should be little doubt that Hispanics will be the true swing demographic group in this coming November’s presidential election.

And how they vote in this election and others to come will determine the future of the Republican Party. With the growing numbers of Hispanics in the United States, a failure to appeal to a large percentage of them could render the GOP a minority party for a generation.

marcorubio.jpg
Sen. Marco Rubio
(Getty Images)
The statistics here don’t lie. The U.S. Hispanic population increased by 15.2 million — 43 percent — between 2000 and 2010, accounting for more than half of the total U.S. population growth. The Hispanic population now stands at some 50.5 million, or 16.3 percent of the nation’s total.

Even more significant, Latino voters are becoming increasingly important in crucial swing states. Americans may tend to underestimate the prevalence of Hispanics in Midwestern swing states like Ohio and Michigan. But in Ohio, for instance — which George W. Bush won in 2004 by a bare majority, 50.8 percent — the Hispanic population grew by 63.4 percent from 2000 to 2010 and now tops 3 percent of the state’s total.

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The Hispanic population is also burgeoning in several red states. In Texas, the Latino population comprises more than 37 percent of the population, and in Florida, over 22 percent.

In fact, Hispanics and African-Americans combined, along with multiracial schoolchildren, now account for a majority of all students in Florida public schools — 54.8 percent. In Texas, that figure is 66 percent.

Remember, these students will be voters someday, and if present trends continue, this will heavily favor Democratic candidates in the future.

Some observers say the heavy pro-Democratic vote in the Hispanic community is all about immigration. I don’t accept that. It’s true that it is a key issue, but Latinos vote Democratic for a range of issues. Another misconception — one that the media have successful convinced many Hispanics of — is that if you speak out against illegal immigration, you are anti-immigrant.

That is totally wrong. It is absolutely possible to be opposed to illegal immigration and at the same time in favor of continued legal immigration. It’s an important difference, and Republicans should better articulate the nuance here.

I have voiced the opinion that the United States needs more legal immigration, not less.

Back in 2009, I wrote an article calling for a substantial increase in legal immigration.

My plan was to first secure the borders, then open the country drastically to legal immigration, welcoming the world’s best and brightest — as does Canada, Australia, and other forward-looking countries — while offering
less-skilled applicants positions in the military or public service.

By the way, that article got a tremendously positive response.

More recently I reiterated that plan and pointed out that the United States has an aging population and needs more workers and more creative minds to grow our economy. The increase would also reduce the strain on Social Security and Medicare.

It is true that people are angry about illegal immigration. But that anger is a feeling, not a policy. The simple point is, the GOP needs to become the pro-immigration party.

A recent poll conducted for Univision found that 72 percent of Latinos said the GOP either did not care about their support, or was hostile to their community. The big lesson to be learned there is that Hispanics need to feel more welcomed by the Republican Party.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, has advocated that view, stating in a recent interview that many Latinos “somehow feel that the party where the conservative movement is housed doesn’t want them.” And strong national Republican support for the Florida Republican — he is even being touted as a possible vice presidential candidate this year — shows that the GOP does want to welcome Hispanics and other ethnic and minority groups.

The bottom line: Rubio is right. The GOP needs to recognize it has a problem and take proactive steps to win over Hispanics who will help shape our political landscape over the next 50 years.

Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.

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