Tales from the Trail

Are Republicans also losing the Asian vote?

Republican struggles winning over Hispanic-American voters have been well documented this campaign season, but there is some concern about another fast-growing ethnic group – Asian Americans.

Tom Davis, a former congressman from Virginia, discussed the Republican Party’s difficulties connecting with Hispanic voters, but said it could change that. ”They are a group that is certainly gettable,” the moderate Republican said.

However, Davis said his party should also seek to win over Asian voters.

“More troubling for Republicans is the fact they’re not winning Asians. Asians are culturally much more like Republicans. They tend to be entrepreneurial, they tend to be very upwardly mobile groups and they ought to be winning those groups in spades,” Davis said at the Reuters Washington Summit.

He said Republican messaging was part of its problem. “The rhetoric plays across a lot of different lines. You want to be a welcoming party,” Davis said. 

“I think sometimes we have elements who are more interested in purifying the party and that’s not the way you build coalitions. It might be a nice comfortable party, but you’ve turned the big tent into a pup tent,” he said.

Romney changes style – not substance – on immigration

Mitt Romney took a dramatically softer tone on immigration in his speech to Latino officials on Thursday than his harsh rhetoric on this issue during the primary campaign, but the likely Republican presidential nominee’s remarks fell flat with immigration advocates, who want him to offer solid policy suggestions and are wary of his past tough line on the issue.

Romney tacked hard to the right on immigration during his nomination fight, as he sought to woo conservative Republican primary voters from rivals who took more moderate positions. During the primary campaign, Romney endorsed an Arizona state law giving the police expanded powers to stop anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, which many Latinos view as racial profiling. He also called for the “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants and promised to repeal the Dream Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some young illegal immigrants brought into the country as children, if the measure were to pass Congress.

But the audience for the general election on Nov. 6 is more moderate on immigration than Republican primary voters. Romney also came under pressure to offer proposals on immigration when President Barack Obama announced a plan on Friday that will let hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people to avoid being shipped home.

Washington Extra – Moonshot no more

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich bows his head in prayer before speaking at First Redeemer Church while on a campaign tour in Cumming, Georgia, February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Earth calling Newt: When the biggest news of your presidential campaign is the penguin biting your hand at the zoo, it’s probably time to pack it in.

Even though Newt Gingrich’s odds of winning the Republican nomination were about as long as those of realizing his dream for a moon colony, the 68-year-old seemed to enjoy himself to the end. “I never got the sense that he was quote-unquote down,” said adviser Charlie Gerow. “I got the sense on a couple of occasions that he was tired. Really tired.” And really in debt. His campaign spent $4.3 million more than it brought in.

Washington Extra – The bench’s backstories

As the Supreme Court justices convene Wednesday to hear arguments in the case Arizona v United States, will their thoughts drift to Italy, Ireland, Poland and Puerto Rico? 

The challenge to Arizona’s tough immigration law may have the justices thinking about their own families’ origins and journeys to America. As Reuters reports today, nearly all of them, like their countrymen, descend from people who came looking for a better life (the notable exception is Justice Clarence Thomas whose great-grandmother was a slave).

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court seen in a October 8, 2010 group portrait. Seated from left to right in front row are: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing from left to right in back row are: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Florida Republicans speak out on immigration

Following another night of Republican primary candidates battling it out over the topic of immigration, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, speaking at a Hispanic Leadership conference in Miami on Friday, struck a conciliatory tone.

“We must admit that there are those among us that have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable and inexcusable,” he told the audience. “And we must admit — myself included — that sometimes we’ve been too slow to condemn that language for what it is.”

Rubio’s 20-minute speech, dedicated almost exclusively to the theme of immigration, reached far beyond the narrow Latino confines of Cuban Miami and was, at its heart, a challenge to his Republican colleagues. “I have challenged the Republican nominees and all Republicans to not just be the anti-illegal immigration party,” he said. “That’s not who we are, that’s not who we should be. We should be the pro-legal immigration party.”

Bush recipe for wooing Hispanic voters

Republicans need to think of immigration as an economic issue — not just a border security issue, former Florida governor Jeb Bush wrote in a Washington Post opinion article on Wednesday, laying out a strategy for wooing Hispanic voters.

Bush, whose op-ed comes ahead of next Tuesday’s Florida primary, calls Hispanics “the most powerful swing voters,” predicting they’ll represent the margin of victory in the fifteen states likely to decide the 2012 presidential race.

“Although Democrats hold the edge, Republicans have an opportunity” to regain the momentum, Bush says.

Romney, Perry heat up stage at Las Vegas debate

In an earlier Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney delivered a composed, “nice try” when he and Rick Perry locked horns over their respective records.

But at the debate in Las Vegas Tuesday night, a fight for domination between the two 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls came through strong verbal punches.

In one  prolonged verbal battle over illegal immigration, it seemed as if Perry was back in fighting form after poor performances in the early debates.

Notes from West Liberty, Iowa

(View an in-depth look at scenes from Iowa and New Hampshire in a downloadable pdf format here and a look ahead to the primaries here)

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West Liberty is Iowa’s first Hispanic-majority city. Fifty-two percent of the people in this town of about 3,700 are Hispanic, according to the latest U.S. Census. It’s a number that would be impressive in any state. But it’s especially noteworthy in Iowa, an overwhelmingly white corner of the America Heartland where just 5 percent of the population statewide is Hispanic.

The town, located between Davenport and Iowa City, has long had a sizable and growing Hispanic population. The reason? The major employer here is West Liberty Foods, a 260,000-square-foot food processing plant that employs about 850 workers.

McCain hails Palin power in the mid-term elections

Arizona Senator John McCain says his former running mate former Alasaka governor Sarah Palin is a “visionary” for the United States.

“She has had a tremendous impact on this election cycle, as you well know, by supporting certain candidates,” McCain said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline. “It is really a remarkable thing to observe.”

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee again defended his decision to pick the then relatively unknown Palin for the number-two spot on the ticket.

Fundraising and the American dream of immigrants

immigrantsThe trials and triumphs of immigrants to the United States were an unexpected theme of a pricey fundraiser in Rockville, Maryland, where President Barack Obama helped raise $400,000 for Democratic Senate candidates on Monday night.

It started with Obama’s introduction by the house party’s host, Rajeev Sharma, chairman of a company, who told the crowd how his parents and in-laws had moved to the United States many years earlier and had worked hard to build a life for their families — one cleaning stalls and one with only 8 dollars in his pocket when he arrived. “They worked hard, became Americans… And now they’re meeting the leader of the free world at the home of their children,” Sharma said, obviously moved.

Obama, whose father was from Kenya, picked up the theme in his comments, making the case to the audience of donors that supporting Democratic candidates would preserve the American dream of immigrants like the Sharma parents.