Republican Presidential hopefuls plan on skipping a forum aimed at Latino voters.
It was billed, in part, as a forum for the 2012 Republican presidential field to speak directly to Hispanics — a replica of the vaunted Conservative Political Action Conference, but tailored to the fastest-growing slice of the electorate.
Yet, when former Gov. Jeb Bush, former Sen. Norm Coleman and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez open the first Hispanic Leadership Network conference next month in Miami, the only potential presidential candidate confirmed to attend — so far — is Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined the invite. So did South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Texas Gov Rick Perry.
Newt Gingrich is “amenable” to attending but hasn’t committed yet, his spokesman said.
And others in the group, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, didn’t respond to inquiries from POLITICO.
This of course follows the Republican obstruction to the DREAM Act that was all anyone seemed to want to talk about on the Sunday news programs. Combine this with the immigrant baiting they’ve done over the past two years, Arizona, and what’s bound to be some interesting immigration bills coming out of Congress and state legislatures and Latino voters will have two years to see who really respects them and their family and who’s going to practice bigoted politics.
Oh, and if Arkansas politicians like Mark Martin and his kin think they can avoid complications related to brown baiting, guess again:
155,000 – Hispanic Population
5% – Hispanics as Percent of State Population
22 – Median Age of Hispanics
8% – Hispanics as Percent of All K-12 Students
Those figures are going to increase exponentially over the next few years and Arkansas Republicans are doing everything they can to alienate those potential voters. Arkansas Democrats, in turn, would be wise to rush to fill the gap. Right now, Republicans are playing with fire. Good.