GOP: Promotes Health Plan to Hispanics
Top Republican officials stepped up "efforts to court Hispanics and craft a winning health care proposal" on the eve of the Republican National Committee's twice-annual meeting in San Jose, CA. Party leaders assembled a focus group of 14 working-class Hispanics, treated them to dinner and entertainment and then probed their opinions on the Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX)-promoted health plan called Fair Care. Moderator Enrique Herrera explained how a bill becomes law and the details of the plan, which would grant up to $3,000 for families who do not receive health coverage through work and do not qualify for Medicare. Several of the participants were not U.S. citizens, and all but one said they lacked health coverage. Although a few participants said they would back the idea, "most appeared to struggle with the concept behind the plan." One woman said, "I would vote for (candidates supporting) Fair Care if I knew that it would be a benefit for me independently." A male participant said that "Fair Care alone would not sway him to vote for a candidate," adding he would have to know more about an office- seeker's other stances.
RNC Chief of Staff Tom Cole said that the GOP must win 40% of the Hispanic vote to win this year's presidential election. But the party must overcome several obstacles, including that many Hispanics often side with Democrats in national elections and Republicans, especially in California, "have alienated many Hispanics by fighting to curb illegal immigration and to abolish affirmative action." Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) said, "They are a permanent force in American politics who will determine who occupies the White House and Congress in the years to come, and as a culture that values hard work, the family and love of country, they are a natural fit for the Republican Party" (Lindlaw, AP/Nando Times, 1/12).