At CPAC, There’s Little Enthusiasm About Expanding the GOP Base

The first day of the conservative conference didn’t spend much time on one of the biggest issues facing the GOP.

People wait to listen to speakers during CPAC, March 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Elahe Izad
March 6, 2014, 11:18 a.m.

One of the biggest chal­lenges the GOP will face in 2016 will be how to win over great­er num­bers of non­white voters.

But it doesn’t seem that this kind of soul-search­ing is something the con­ser­vat­ive base is go­ing to get fired up about. At the first day of the Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence, the most thor­ough dis­cus­sion about how to win over “non­tra­di­tion­al vot­ing blocs” came in the late af­ter­noon, with a pan­el dis­cus­sion en­titled “Reach­ing Out.” It man­aged to fill up about one-third of the main ball­room.

“You’ve got to show up and not come when you need them but come when they need you,” said Bob Wood­son, pres­id­ent of the Cen­ter for Neigh­bor­hood En­ter­prise. “It both­ers me when people say low-in­come people re­spond to gifts…. Nobody wants to be de­pend­ent. Let’s as­sume that people want a hand up, not a handout. What lib­er­als do is they at least ex­press their con­cern.”

The pan­el­ists offered their thoughts on how to make in­roads in minor­ity com­munit­ies: Don’t pander by simply go­ing on tours or seek­ing photo ops; in­vest money in­to mul­ti­lin­gual mes­saging and reach out to Span­ish-lan­guage me­dia; de­vel­op long-last­ing re­la­tion­ships with com­munity lead­ers; and find is­sues, like help­ing former pris­on­ers se­cure jobs, where in­roads can be made.

Some of the mar­quee speak­ers at CPAC did tout policy, such as bol­ster­ing charter schools, that could garner sup­port from some non­white voters. But com­pared with last year’s CPAC, where a ma­jor fo­cus was woo­ing Latino voters, delving in­to the main themes of the postelec­tion GOP autopsy re­port seems to have lost steam. No men­tion of im­mig­ra­tion re­form came from ma­jor speak­ers Thursday, with just one pan­el ded­ic­ated to the top­ic of cit­izen­ship. 

The first speak­er to really talk about im­mig­ra­tion was Don­ald Trump. “We’re either a coun­try or we’re not,” he said, when ad­voc­at­ing for a strong bor­der. The audi­ence burst in­to ap­plause.

New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie would have been well po­si­tioned to de­liv­er re­marks on how to win over more non­white voters; he won 51 per­cent of His­pan­ics and 21 per­cent of Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans last year. But giv­en Christie’s re­cent prob­lems back in New Jer­sey, and his drop­ping poll num­bers among Re­pub­lic­ans, he per­haps had more press­ing con­cerns to ad­dress with his speech.

The com­ing days at CPAC could fea­ture more dis­course on the im­port­ance of minor­ity voters. Sen. Rand Paul, who will speak Fri­day, has been tour­ing the coun­try, sit­ting at roundtables with Afric­an-Amer­ic­an lead­ers and stu­dents, in an ef­fort to reach out. Ben Car­son, who speaks Sat­urday, has been known to lash out against the as­sump­tion that blacks should be con­sidered de­fault Demo­crats.

What We're Following See More »
Republican Polling Shows Close Race
Roundup: National Polling Remains Inconsistent
1 hours ago

The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona

Colin Powell to Vote for Clinton
3 hours ago
Cook Report: Dems to Pick up 5-7 Seats, Retake Senate
5 hours ago

Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.

"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."

Tying Republicans to Trump Now an Actionable Offense
7 hours ago

"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."

Former Congressman Schock Fined $10,000
7 hours ago

Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.