WASHINGTON D.C. — Conservatives in Washington, still smarting over their electoral defeat in November, held a conference Tuesday to offer new strategies to attract the votes of the Hispanic community.
The forum, entitled “Reaching Out: Sharing the Message of Liberty With All Americans,” was simulcast on C-SPAN.
“Our message is simple: it’s freedom and economic opportunity,” said Robert “Red” Flange, author of the best-selling book “Invaders: Why We Continue to Welcome Terrorists and Criminals to Our Shores.”
“We never criticize legal immigrants, only illegal aliens,” said Roger Sherbourne, an analyst at the Tradition Roundtable. Sherbourne’s 2011 policy brief, “Gaming the System: How Legal Immigrants Get Free Welfare and Health Care at Your Expense,” was widely credited with influencing Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s immigration policy.
“My grandfather came to this country with 30 rubles in his pocket,” said Henrietta Aiken, editor of the blog IllegalsAreTakingYourJobs.com. “So I take a back seat to no one in welcoming people of all ethnicities and colors who want to work hard and succeed.”
President Barack Obama’s re-election spurred several high-profile conservatives, from Sean Hannity to Charles Krauthammer, to endorse some form of comprehensive immigration reform. On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-NY] announced that the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators had reached a “substantive agreement on all the major pieces” of reform legislation.
But conservatives at the forum condemned the “Gang of Eight” and its “Tea Party” member, Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL].
“I think Sen. Rubio has traded his tea for Kool-aid — or, better yet, Jarritos,” said Lanny Fernandez of the Build the Fence First! Foundation. “He has no credibility with Hispanics.”
“I agree,” added Rep. Don Young [R-AK], who apologized once again for using the term “wetback.”
Many participants blamed the media for distorting the conservative message, which they claimed was more in tune with the aspirations of immigrants than President Obama’s agenda.
“I don’t know how much louder we can say it: we welcome you!” said Sanford B. Stillwater, author of “Barack José Obama: The Illegal Alien’s BFF in the White House.” Stillwater announced plans to reprint his book in Spanish.
“Hispanics are a natural Republican constituency,” said radio talk show host Len Lapband, who then warned, “If amnesty is passed, Democrats will get tens of millions of new voters.”
Despite the gloomy post-election atmosphere, attendees were optimistic that their message could carry the day.
“When Hispanics understand what we’re all about, they will support us,” said Joseph Levy, a conservative editorial cartoonist who stirred controversy last fall with an image of an “anchor baby” peeing on the Statue of Liberty. “We just have to get better salesmen for our ideas.”
John K. Herr is a Washington D.C.-based speechwriter and standup comedian (stage name “Herricane”). He has written for three governors and four Cabinet secretaries, and wrote jokes for President George W. Bush. He can be reached by email (email@example.com), or follow him on Twitter (@jherricane).