A major effort to draw Latinos and blacks into the Republican Party, a central element of the GOP plan to build a long-lasting majority, is in danger of collapse amid anger over the immigration debate and claims that Republican leaders have not delivered on promises to direct more money to church-based social services.
President Bush, strategist Karl Rove and other top Republicans have wooed Latino and black leaders, many of them evangelical clergy who lead large congregations, in hopes of peeling away the traditional Democratic base. But now some of the leaders who helped drive Bush to victory in 2004 are revisiting their loyalty to the Republican Party and, in some cases, abandoning it. “There is a fissure, and I doubt it will be closed in this election,” said the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., a Republican who founded the annual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast that has featured Bush every year since 2002. His Philadelphia-based Esperanza USA boasts a national affiliate network of more than 10,000 churches.
The Latino backlash has grown so intense that one prominent, typically pro-Republican organization, the Latino Coalition, has endorsed Democrats in competitive races this year in Tennessee, Nebraska and New Jersey. The coalition is chaired by Hector Barreto, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush; its president is a former strategist for the Republican National Committee.
None of this comes as a surprise. These groups were being hustled by the GOP from Day One.
Sooner or later, a snow job has to melt.
Jesus saves, but this time around, He might not save the Republican Party.