WASHINGTON >> Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says the Republican Party needs to go back to basics to attract the broad coalition of voters credited with putting President Barack Obama back in the White House.
“If we want people to like us, we have to like them first,” Jindal said on Fox News Sunday.
Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has a more nuts-and-bolts approach to bringing in some of the largest and fastest growing groups of Americans: He’s forming a super PAC to support Republican candidates who back comprehensive immigration reform, including legalizing the status of an estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. without authorization.
The 2012 elections drove home trends that have been embedded for years in the fine print of birth and death rates, immigration statistics and census charts. Nonwhites made up 28 percent of the electorate this year, compared with 20 percent in 2000, with Hispanics comprising much of that growth. Obama captured a commanding 80 percent of the growing ranks of nonwhite voters in 2012, just as he did in 2008. Republican Mitt Romney won 59 percent of non-Hispanic whites, and although he dominated among white men — outperforming 2008 nominee John McCain among that group — he couldn’t win.
Republicans have spent much of the time since the election wrestling with ways to appeal beyond their base of white men and married women. Nonetheless, in a conference call to big donors last week, Romney credited Obama’s win to “extraordinary financial gifts from government” he said the president gave groups in his base coalition: Latinos, African-Americans and young people.
Both Jindal and Gutierrez backed Romney’s bid for the White House, but distanced themselves from his post-election comments.
Jindal, the incoming chair of the Republican Governors Association and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, on Sunday said slighting people simply isn’t good politics.
“You don’t start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party,” he said.
Jindal said the Republican Party needs to convince voters it is the party of the middle class and upward mobility. Its conservative principles “are good for every single voter” and it “has to campaign for every single vote,” he added.
“We also don’t need to be saying stupid things,” Jindal said, referring to GOP Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana who lost their races after comments about rape that were widely criticized.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the GOP group’s incoming vice chair, said also on Fox News Sunday that governors are key to bringing a diversity of voters to the GOP. Thirty states have elected Republican governors, an indication that “the trust factor is there.”
“We’ve got a message that works for young people, that works for people who come to our country from other countries, and, basically for anyone who wants to live their piece of the American dream,” Walker said. “I think that starts with our governors as great messengers.”
Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush, said the country cannot grow without immigrants and the Republican Party is a natural home for them.
“We are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance,” Gutierrez said in remarks taped Friday for CNN’s “State of the Union.” ”These immigrants who come across, and what they do wrong is risk their lives, and they come here and they work because they want to be part of the American dream. That is what the GOP is.”
Gutierrez said he is working with Charlie Spies, who created the largest super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, on a super PAC to back candidates that support “a path, a process for legalization of workers who are here undocumented.”
“First they have to be legalized,” Gutierrez said. “Then you have to find a way to get into a line for the green card. … There will be requirements. And we’ll have to negotiate some sort of requirements.”
Gutierrez said Republicans for Immigration Reform is about people from all over the world, including Hispanics, Asians, West Africans and Ethiopians.
“If we get this right… the 21st century is ours,” Gutierrez said, referring to the GOP. “If we get it wrong, shame on us.”