It's not a good sign for the GOP when even an avowedly pro-business gathering is stocked with far more Democrats than Republicans.
On Thursday morning, the Web site Right Wing News noticed an embarrassing omission on the speakers' list for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 19th Annual Legislative Conference: not a single Republican Senator had signed up and only two GOP House members -- both Cuban-Americans from South Florida -- were listed.
Meanwhile, the page went on and on with high-profile Democratic congressmen who were planning to attend. Blogger John Hawkins called the Chamber, and spokesman Dale Crowell confirmed that there had been no additional confirmations, though many more had been invited.
Hawkins highlighted the GOP absence, and his post was picked up on by other blogs, conservative and liberal, as a glaring example of an out-of-step party. "It's not like they're being asked to go visit the NAACP or speak to an immigrants' rights march," wrote liberal blogger Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones. "This is the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an organization filled with business leaders who presumably have wealth, oppose regulations, and want to see lower corporate taxes."
"My hope is that this post may embarrass Republican Senators into showing up for some of these events," wrote Hawkins.
It appears to have worked.
"Since that came out, we absolutely have had a number of Republicans" say that they will appear at the conference next week, Crowell told the Huffington Post. "Yesterday, we had a lot of Republicans come in."
"The USHCC is a nonpartisan organization, so we always try to have a balance at any of our events and activities," said Crowell. "It just happened to be at that point everyone who was up on the list was a Democrat, almost everyone."
The Republican confirmations since yesterday afternoon: Sens. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mel Martinez (Fla.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.). Crowell declared himself pleased at the response. Did they sign up out of embarrassment?
"I couldn't really say," said Crowell. "Who knows? Maybe they did." He noted that Congress has been extremely busy and members often wait until the last minute to confirm.
While the new attendees brings the GOP number to seven, they're still wildly outpaced by Democrats in terms of both power and numbers.
Crowell said that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis had just confirmed on Friday, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be attending, as will House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), along with five other Senators and five other House members.
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