After a few days of speeches at CPAC, one of the largest annual gatherings of conservatives, the Republican National Committee urged the party to embrace comprehensive immigration reform and throw down $10 million on minority outreach to help win back Latino voters they’ve alienated in recent years.
But the Arizona GOP is going to stick to its guns.
Conservative leaders in the state that pioneered the tactic of wrenching control over immigration policy from the federal government say there’s no need to change their message to reach out to Hispanics, the Yuma Sun reports.
State Rep. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) told the paper that his party’s message was already resonating with Latinos.
“What do people like? God? Pro-life? Pro-traditional marriage? Boy that sounds a lot like our platform,” Smith said.
That’s one way to look at things.
Another way to read the situation is that the Arizona GOP played a leading role in alienating Latinos from the Republican Party nationally by leading a crackdown on illegal immigration that was opposed by most Hispanic voters, many of whom felt scapegoated and viewed laws like SB 1070 as a form of racial profiling.
President Barack Obama pummeled GOP challenger Mitt Romney in the state among Latinos, winning 74 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Smith himself wholeheartedly embraces the Arizona GOP’s current strategy. He authored a bill that would require immigration checks at Arizona's hospitals, but exempts Canadians and many Europeans from its provisions.
It’s doubtful that social conservatism alone will help Arizona conservatives win Latino votes. Polling shows Latinos increasingly oppose conservative positions on social issues. Some 66 percent of Latinos said abortion should be legal and 59 percent said their state should recognize gay marriage, according to exit polling after last years election.
Meet 5 of the Arizona immigration hardliners who have helped drive Latino voters away from the party in recent years in the slideshow below.