In another effort to rebrand the GOP ahead of Congressional and presidential elections, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are relaunching NewRepublican.org, a project dedicated to outlining a new positive agenda for the future. The group, originally launched by Republican strategist Alex Castellanos in 2013, will run a commercial featuring Bush and Jindal during this week’s Sunday political talk shows and is already raising thousands from top donors.
NewRepublican.org’s front page features a stock photo of a young African American boy promoting school vouchers and shots of the governors advocating for small government, “bottom up” solutions. It also includes a 1977 speech from Ronald Reagan under a section called “Latest.”
In the ad, Bush and Jindal touch on some of the qualities of a “New Republican,” arguing that such an individual believes that “the economy should be driven from the bottom-up” and doesn’t want the Republican party to support “big anything.” But that message hits an awkward snag on immigration reform, the only area where the project offers a more detailed solution. A letter from Castellanos lays out a “New Republican” immigration plan that relies heavily on state action:
We can stand up for a bottom-up immigration system that let’s [sic] states decide what kind of bright minds and hard workers they need; not a top down system where states are told what to do by Washington.
Unfortunately, Bush and Jindal have both endorsed a national reform of immigration laws in which the federal government sets immigration quotas and standards across state lines. Bush has called on the House to take up the Senate-passed immigration reform bill and in his book “Immigration Wars,” argues that while states should be allowed greater flexibility, a system that “let’s states decide” immigration reform could prove counter-productive:
Of course, the federal government has exclusive constitutional domain over foreign policy and commerce, and it would not do us very well to have fifty different immigration policies. It makes little sense even to contemplate such a scenario given that the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized the federal government’s hegemony over immigration. […]
Were Congress to expressly authorize the states to play a larger role, in our view it not only would improve our nation’s immigration policy but also could greatly increase the odds for broader political buy-in for positive comprehensive immigration reform.
Jindal opposes the immigration bill passed by the Senate and has called on the federal government to secure the border before recognizing the status of unauthorized immigrants residing in the U.S. Still, in a National Review op-ed outlining his position, Jindal does not endorse turning over immigration reform to the states.
“New Republican” is just one of the GOP’s many efforts to rebrand itself in the aftermath of the 2012 election. Days after Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency, Jindal kicked off a publicity campaign casting himself as an ideas-oriented Republican and argued that the GOP “must stop being the stupid party.” Months later, the Republican National Committee conducted an “autopsy” examining how Republicans can attract younger and more minority voters, though it has repeatedly failed to enact any real changes.