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Le Figaro, France

Will This Kill the
Republican Party?

By Laure Vandeville

Translated By Meredith O'Connell

18 November 2012

Edited by Lau­ren Gerken

France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

Introspection, bookkeeping and a mea culpa. ... The Republican Party's self-analysis has begun and promises memorable fights. Since Wednesday, the Grand Old Party's leaders have come together at a conference in Las Vegas to take stock of their bitter defeat and to understand why it happened. Stunned by the stinging rejection from most of the swing states and by Barack Obama's win, which is thanks largely to the minority and female vote, a number of the party's big shots demanded an immediate re-evaluation of the strategies that have been adopted regarding social and economic questions. The scathing tone adopted by certain leaders towards Mitt Romney says a lot about the ideological and political struggle that defines the party.

Having clearly not swallowed defeat, Romney told donors that Barack Obama won by giving "gifts" to minorities, a remark that echoes the unfortunate video that stated that 47 percent of Americans have a “victim” or “dependent” mentality. This remark exasperated Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American who is very popular in his state and, like many governors, could see himself as a presidential candidate in 2016. "I absolutely reject that notion and that description," Jindal announced in Vegas. "Stop being the stupid party. ... We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. Enough of that. ... We need to modernize, not moderate.” That’s quite the debatable topic.

One question that should keep the conversation going for a while is whether the party lost because it swung too far to the right under the Tea Party's influence (forgetting here its attraction for independents) or because it was represented by a "false conservative.” [The latter] opinion was defended by conservative strategist Richard Viguerie and radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.

The party's moderates, modeled after McCain, notably believe that conservative Christians have scared off women with their extreme position on abortion. Conservative Christians themselves confirm that their supporters’ mass participation was one of the strongest aspects of the Romney campaign and that one must look elsewhere to explain his defeat. For them, it's time to make concessions on fiscal issues and revert to a "more generous" party, which is more inclusive and concerned about the poor, an idea taken up by Catholics. ...

In short, each group tries to read the results in a way that favors their interests. ... One idea that seems to be making headway and could reconcile everyone involves the urgent need to welcome Latinos into the party, as they were one of the key demographics to clinch the ticket in this past election. (And they will continue to do so in the future, given their dramatic population increase.)

A number of Republican leaders like ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Bobby Jindal are convinced that the party must totally change its approach toward Hispanics to gain their confidence. They insist that Hispanics, practicing Catholics and creators of multiple businesses, overall possess social and economic values that are much closer to Republican values than to Democratic values and have connected with Obama's Democratic Party because of his much more favorable approach towards illegal immigrants.

Will they agree that clinching the Latino vote will come with a massive immigration reform? And will they therefore agree with Obama on this crucial issue, which, despite his efforts, George W. Bush failed to resolve during his terms?

This could very well be the case. In any case, the conversation is well underway in the halls of Congress, and a Hispanic Republican super PAC is in the making. ... Republican tactical considerations could well bring the winds of compromise to Capitol Hill. ... The other option would be to block the measure and to jump headlong to the right, a dangerous scenario for Republicans.



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