News Column

Idaho's Labrador to GOP: Reach Out to Hispanics

Nov. 15, 2012

Dan Popkey, The Idaho Statesman

Raul Labrador
Raul Labrador

Congressman Raul Labrador says Mitt Romney's poor showing among Hispanics was key to his defeat and that Republicans can't elect a GOP president without them.

"We are never going to be a majority party if we don't figure out a way to reach out to the Hispanic community," said Labrador, a native of Puerto Rico elected to his second term in Idaho's 1st District. "So we have to find a conservative consensus on immigration."

Labrador spoke during a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday sponsored by a group he co-chairs, Conversations with Conservatives. Labrador co-sponsored a bill to loosen work visa requirements for students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, which failed this fall.

"We can't keep punting the ball for the next Congress to fix this issue," he said. "I'm trying to get the conservatives here in the House to work on this issue, to find a solution to the immigration problem."

Labrador said Republican opposition to immigration reform leaves many Hispanics unwilling to consider voting GOP.

"One of the main reasons that we lost is because Romney got 27 percent of the Hispanic vote," Labrador said. "If we continue to get 27 percent of the vote for the rest of our lives, we will continue to lose every single presidential election that's out there."

Labrador said clearing the immigration hurdle could bring a wave of votes for the GOP.

"Hispanics agree with us on social issues, they agree with us on fiscal issues, they're usually business oriented. ... They don't want higher taxes," he said. "But we cannot even reach them with our message if they feel like they're not welcome in our party."

Labrador said he agrees with Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan that Romney lost because Americans felt like the GOP doesn't care about ordinary Americans.

"It's the average American people that have a hard time under a Democratic administration -- it's Hispanics, African Americans, women who have been losing jobs, who have been losing houses," he said. "And we have done a terrible job of selling that message."

Source: (c)2012 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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