RNC’s Priebus: Hispanic Pitch

Photograph by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Protestors demonstrate calling for immigration reform in front of the Illinois GOP headquarters on June 27, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been stressing the need for his party to do a better job reaching out to a variety of groups. Today, he’ll try to do just that, as he addresses a gathering of Hispanic leaders in Chicago.

Republicans know that “we can’t truly represent America until we’re engaged in every community and every state,” Priebus is to say, according to his preparaed remarks. Referring to its “Grand Old Party” nickname, he also says in the text, “The old G.O.P didn’t do a great job of that. But the new G.O.P — the Growth and Opportunity Party — is doing things differently.”

Priebus is the top Republican leader attending the National Association of Latino Elected and Officials annual meeting.

“NALEO and the RNC have many common goals,” Priebus is to say. “Among them: getting more Latinos politically active.”

About 1,000 people are expected to attend the group’s 30th annual conference.

Priebus’s comments will make a veiled reference to one of the most widely spotlighted statistics to come out of last November’s election — the 71 percent of the Hispanic vote that went for President Barack Obama in his winning re-election bid, compared with Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s 27 percent.

“The RNC has made a commitment to do our part to increase voter engagement, with a focus on minority communities and places where we haven’t been,” Priebus is to say. “We’ve completely reshaped our engagement efforts at the RNC to be more community based. We’re hiring from the community so we can get to know the community.”

On Washington’s most pressing legislative issue — the Obama-led push to revise immigration policy — Priebus will embrace the need for an overhaul without specifically endorsing the bill that 14 Republicans helped pass in the Senate earlier this week, but which 32 party members opposed.

“Like you, I recognize the need for immigration reform because our current system is broken,” he is to say. ”We need a solution that strengthens families. We need a solution that expands economic opportunity. And one of the reasons we need improved border security – that is not mentioned enough – is to further prevent violence and drug trafficking.”

In his prepared remarks, Priebus ends his speech by saying, “Muchas gracias.”

Priebus yesterday talked more directly about the debate on Capitol Hill in an interview with CNN, saying, “We need comprehensive immigration reform.”

While conceding that the House Republican majority, led by Speaker John Boehner, will treat the Senate bill as D.O.A., Priebus said that doesn’t mean nothing will emerge from the chamber, and that prospects for agreement on a final compromise measure —  so elusive on so many fronts in Congress these days — shouldn’t be dismissed.

“My understanding is that the House is going to draft its own version of an immigration bill that they see as either a better fix for comprehensive immigration reform, or something that is reflective of the Republican majority of the House, and then potentially go to conference, and potentially have a conclusion,” Priebus told CNN.

He insisted that “the House is committed to putting something pretty comprehensive together that’s going to address the issue.”

“Pretty comprehensive” is the key phrase. Skeptics abound who believe House Republicans are interested only in focusing on beefed-up border security, and that that a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as charted in the Senate bill, will remain a non-starter for them.


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