MIAMI — At a conservative Latino conference where the mere mention of his name as a presidential candidate drew wild applause, former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) delivered a blistering critique of Republican outreach to racial minorities, calling the GOP a “reactionary party” bereft of ideas both for appealing to minority voters and for repairing the country more broadly.
Bush’s comments came at the annual Hispanic Leadership Network conference, where “right of center” Latinos meet to discuss politics and policy — this year’s focus is comprehensive immigration reform. The governor delivered the keynote address at the conference’s Thursday afternoon session, which is where he leveled his bleak assessment of the GOP on race:
BUSH: Immigration is a gateway issue. It’s not the dominant — you ask people the polling, immigration’s important — but it’s not the dominant [issue]. Education’s more important, health care’s more important. Jobs are more important. […] But if you send a signal, “yeah yeah, we want your vote” — Of course we want your vote, everybody wants your vote, but you can’t be part of our team, you can’t join our club, you’re not who I am. We don’t have a set of shared values.” You think people are going to embrace that kind of attitude? That’s exactly what we’ve done in about six election cycles in a row. So it should be no surprise that we have the result we have.
Bush has recently gotten into hot water with factions both to his right and his left. He claims to support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but has taken a muddled and at times contradictory position on the issue in recent weeks. Not only is this stance unpopular on the anti-immigration reform right, but Bush’s frequent criticisms of the GOP’s hard-right wing swing have angered some grassroots conservatives.