Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The top Republican presidential contenders should demand a refund for some of the millions they are paying in consultant fees. Or perhaps launch a round of mass firings for the unbelievably foolish advice they are getting from their advisers who are bent on ignoring the population’s fastest growing demographic groups.

It is astounding that any strategist would condone ignoring more than a quarter of the American population. Yet that is exactly what Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and John McCain are doing.

The four Republicans are snubbing Tavis Smiley, host of this week’s “All American Presidential Forums on PBS.” The debate is scheduled to be held on the campus of the historically black Morgan State University in Baltimore and is designed to address issues of importance to minority voters. Mr. Smiley has expressed disappointment (as we are) at the Republicans who declined to participate in the debate, and he plans to have an empty podium on stage for each candidate who is a no-show. Good for him.

The candidates claim their schedules are just too busy.

It is striking that the Republican frontrunners believe that some run-of-the mill fund-raiser is more important than building up their relationships with black and Hispanic voters, groups who flock to the Democratic Party in droves. And yet it doesn’t seem like these Republican candidates seem to mind.

Last week, Univision, the dominant Spanish-language television network, was forced to cancel a Republican debate aimed at Hispanic voters because they only had Mr. McCain on board. In contrast, the Democratic Univision debate was attended by all candidates and attracted more than 2 million viewers, according to press reports.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California was the lone Republican who agreed to speak before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials earlier this summer. He was joined by seven Democratic candidates, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

“Scheduling is a matter of prioritization, and most folks interpreted their declining the invitation as an undervaluing of the audience,” Evan Bacalao, a spokesman for the Hispanic officials, told The Washington Times.

If the Republican Party hopes to make any gains among minorities, it must stop undervaluing these voting blocs. The snubbings will result in a continued drubbing at the polls, just as we saw in 2006. We’re giving this advice free of charge: Stop giving the party a bad name.

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