GOP Hispanic Outreach Hits Tea Party Fury
House Republican leadership’s outreach to the Hispanic community ran smack into a tea party wall on Wednesday.
Outside the Capitol, a tea-party-fueled rally on immigration put the spotlight on the dilemma facing Speaker John A. Boehner. The Ohio Republican met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday and hopes to cure his party’s huge demographic challenge with Hispanics by passing an immigration overhaul this year. But the tea party energy on display outside the Capitol, which catapulted him into power in 2010, has turned on the speaker.
The contrast was on full display at an ill-timed news conference held by GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington outside the Capitol in the House Triangle, competing with the larger, daylong anti-immigration-bill news conference and rally on the East Front.
McMorris Rodgers had gathered faith-based leaders of the Latino community on Capitol Hill to, she said, talk about “our shared goals for America” with a half-dozen of her colleagues as part of a larger outreach effort.
At one point, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., addressed Hispanic media outlets in Spanish — only to get heckled.
“If they all learned English …” someone shouted from the sidelines, then trailed off, as a woman arrived wielding a sign that read, “Do not reward criminals, no amnesty for illegal aliens!!!”
The speakers sought to brush it off.
“I want to make a call for unity,” said Becky Keenan, a pastor with the Gulf Meadows Church of Houston, Texas, “a call for a tone that is civil, where we can discuss issues, see where we can compromise.”