Reporters should ask the Colorado GOP, where’s the burrito?

The headline on an Associated Press story last week, juxtaposed to the GOP comments in the article, tell you all you need to know about how it’s one thing for Republicans to promise to be nicer to Hispanics, as Josh Penry and Rob Witwer did recently, and another thing for them to stop pushing policies that do nothing but alienate Hispanics from the GOP.

First, the headline of the AP story:

“Colorado Democrats Plan To Pass Tuition Aid For Immigrants”

Then, the GOP response toward the end of the story:

Arvada Republican Rep. Libby Szabo said it was too soon to tell whether her party would support the tuition legislation.

“One thing I learned in my first legislative session is that I don’t comment on anything I have not seen,” she said.

Szabo, who was elected to be her party’s assistant House minority leader Thursday, made her gender and her Latino background part of her pitch for the leadership post, saying, “I am a woman Latino, and I think it would speak big if we didn’t just talk about reaching out to them, but we said we are going to put someone in leadership who is actually one of them.”

So Szabo couldn’t even commit her own support to the state version of the Dream Act, much less the members of her party who organized opposition this summer when Metro State University dared to lower tuition rates for undocumented kids.

Instead, Szabo makes a parody of herself by saying, look at me! I’m proof positive that the GOP likes Hispanics!

So here’s the point of this blog post: Reporters shouldn’t let Republicans get away with saying they support Hispanics without asking for those ugly specifics, which go beyond good looks and leadership positions.

As The Denver Post’s Alicia Caldwell said during an excellent discussion of the election on Rocky Mountain PBS’ Colorado State of Mind Nov. 9, “You have to change policies as well as faces.”

As my colleague Michael Lund pointed out, polling shows Hispanics, to the extent you can generalize, care most about jobs and the economy, as well as education, immigration, and healthcare–and the Colorado GOP doesn’t offer them much on these fronts. Project New America polling also showed that basic concern and the poor matters.

The question is, what will Colorado Republicans offer Hispanics in any of these areas?

Will Republicans offer anything on the economy except de-regulation and tax cuts?  On healthcare, will the Colorado GOP stop trying to block implementation of Obamacare? On education, will they finally get behind the reduced tuition bill that Szabo is noncommittal about? Will they support a pathway for citizenship both for undocumented children as well their parents? Do Republicans think they need to become Democrats to win over Hispanics?

If Republicans aren’t pressed, we’ll get the kind of rhetoric Penry and Witwer offered up this weekend in The Post:

We’ve forgotten that politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. And here’s some more math: 50,000 Latino kids turn 18 every month in this country. These kids grow up in households where parents work hard and attend church on Sunday. These are American values. But yes, some of these kids — through no fault of their own — were not born American citizens.

We’ve seen the arc of the immigration debate, and through our own personal experiences, we’ve also seen that it must now be resolved at all costs. This is a human issue, with moral (and biblical) implications. It’s time to bury the hatchet and forge bipartisan agreement on immigration reform.

Great, a reporter should say to Penry and Witwer, but where’s the burrito?


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