A Latino Republican leader informs the candidates that the United States will soon be a majority-minority country. What are they going to do about it?
Go to the “precinct level,” says Blackwell, and inform blacks and Latinos that the GOP will fight the unions who would keep their children in “public school reservations.”
“Tone and tenor is a problem,” says Anuzis. “We need to make it clear we’re not a whites-only party.” Saltsman, who knows something about this, makes very little noise: the party just needs to talk to minorities and “tell them who we are.”
Duncan acknowledges the problem: “If we don’t do something about it we’re going to be a minority party.” He just got back from Puerto Rico, where a Republican-affiliated candidate won the governorship on a conservative message. Thus, they can win.
This is Steele’s wheelhouse, and he dominates it. “Get out of your comfort zone,” he says. “How many party chairmen have been to their states’ NAACP dinners?” The others (save Saltsman) raise their hands. “How many know what the biggest Hispanic group in their state is?” The others raise their hands. “I’m not talking about you guys!” says Steele.
A go-around about defining moments–when the candidates have challenged their parties–gives everyone a chance to talk about fighting tax hikes (Saltsman) or supporting a Constitutional flag-burning amendment. Steele is a little more controversial: He attacked the White House over Hurricane Katrina. (In an earlier round, Steele was the only candidate to name more than one mistake by the Bush administration.)
Norquist grills the six contenders on their technology: Are they on Twitter? What are their favorite websites? Do they have their own websites? Everyone, save Blackwell, tells people to go to their own campaign pages. Blackwell tells the crowd to visit Townhall.com, the Washington Times, and a few other conservative sites. “I wrote and have written for those organizations for a long time. My views are very clear.”
There’s a resolution before the RNC now to condemn the Wall Street bailout? Do the candidates support it? Only Duncan wavers. “Republicans should have had some more you-know-whats and opposed it,” says Steele.
The debate wraps up with short, optimistic closing statements. “People like Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan inspired me to become a Republican,” says Anuzis. “That’s who we’re losing–the Reagan Democrats.
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