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We've seen this before out of the GOP. Remember how Rep. Paul Ryan insisted that his budget ideas weren't hugely unpopular because they were bad ideas, but because the Republicans just hadn't figured out how to sell them? It's the same thing, they say, with their problem with minorities. They don't hate them because of their policies, but because they haven't properly "messaged" those policies. To remedy that, they created a special panel and project at their RNC meeting last week.
Zoraida Fonalledas had a lot to say, as well. The national committeewoman for Puerto Rico just didn’t get to say it when she sat with the four other members of theGrowth and Opportunity Project panel, answering reporters’ questions about how the party would regroup. Doing most of the talking were Barbour; Ari Fleischer, the longtime Washington insider “happy to dive right into this,” he told me; Florida GOP strategist Sally Bradshaw, and Glenn McCall, national committeeman from South Carolina.
That's quite the start. Don't let the one minority person on your panel actually talk. Because, you know, the white people can figure this all out for her. Which is sort of emblematic of how deeply and profoundly they are failing to understand their problem.
The plan is for the project to deliver a report in March, but the language of diversity is something Republicans are still getting used to. In his presentation, Barbour talked about the message to be delivered as Republicans look to fill a big tent. “We’re the party of opportunity,” he said. “They’re the party of dependency.” I asked if that’s the most felicitous term to use in a message to loyal Democrats you’re eager to convert.

“I think what we want to talk about is opportunity, the opportunity for people to aspire to reach their dreams whatever that may be,” Barbour said, mentioning strong schools as a common goal. “We want to make certain we’re campaigning in every state in every region to every voter, and we are inclusive. And even if we disagree with you that doesn’t mean we don’t like you.”

It's all in the messaging, in "engagement" rather than "outreach." Because they don't want to actually ask minority communities what policy changes might be necessary to make them a little less hated. That would be outreach. No, they just want to "engage," to tell those folks that the GOP actually likes them, really likes them, so never mind all those actions Republicans have taken that are devastating to minority communities. It's nothing personal.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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