CPAC Minority Panel Attracts Few Listeners

Friday, 07 Mar 2014 11:41 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The Conservative Political Action Conference held a discussion about GOP outreach to minorities — but it attracted almost no interest.

"The [Thursday] panel delivered a remarkably pointed review of GOP voter outreach (largely its failures) and explained, in very straightforward terms, how the party can (and must) do better," Brookings Institute fellow John Hudak, who attended the event, said in a blog post.

"However, the most revealing part of the experience was not what happened on stage, but what happened off stage, and reflects the national electoral struggles Republicans are facing," he said, adding, "About ten minutes into the panel, I snapped a photo of a largely empty ballroom. The lack of attendance for the panel is a huge loss and missed opportunity for participants."

During the panel there was a squabble when one Republican political strategist, Jason Roe, suggested that Democrats do better than Republicans among minorities because they have "goodies" to offer.

"It's not goodies," GOP strategist Robert Woodson responded, Talking Points Memo reports.  "It bothers me that people assume that lower-income respond to gifts —food stamps or things that will be given to them," he said.

"Nobody wants to be dependent so let's assume that people want a hand up and not a hand down," Woodson added.

Hudak said by the time the panel finished, having run longer than expected, the ballroom was full because people had gathered to hear the next speaker, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre.

"Therein lies the problem. Speaking to gun-rights supporters is not the path to Republican success at the national level," Hudak wrote.

"If the GOP wants to see the Democratic Party struggle to elect a president, they should win 20 percent of the African American vote or 50 percent of the Latino vote."

He added that if attendance reflects the party's future approach to diversity, "the White House will be a solid hue of deep blue" for some time into the future.

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