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Washington - A scathing self-analysis released on Monday by the Republican National Committee says the Republicans are perceived as “narrow minded”, “out of touch” and “stuffy old men” and must be more “welcoming and inclusive” to minority voters who overwhelmingly support Democrats.
The Republican establishment outlined plans for a campaign to reach out to minority groups - gay voters among them - as part of a strategy to make the party more appealing to growing segments of the US population who are voting for Democrats in progressively larger numbers.
President Barack Obama won re-election last November with support from 80 percent of non-white and ethnic voters.
“When Republicans lost in November, it was a wake-up call,” Reince Priebus, the RNC chair, said in a Monday morning speech.
America's changing demographics have some Republican strategists worried. Last year, racial and ethnic minorities became a majority among babies under age one for the first time in US history.
Party leaders have crafted dozens of recommendations following a months-long self-examination prompted by last year's painful election losses, which also reduced the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and increased the Democratic majority in the Senate.
The Republican National Committee's shift on minority outreach may be the most visible change in the coming months.
Priebus plans to dispatch hundreds of paid workers into Hispanic, black and Asian communities across the nation by the end of the summer, a $10-million effort meant to rival Obama's national political machine.
The party will also push for a tone of “tolerance and respect” in the immigration debate, create “senior level advisory councils” focused on minority groups, and establish “swearing-in citizenship teams” to connect with new voters immediately after swearing-in ceremonies.
“We need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case,” the report says. “We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”
One recommendation in the report was sure to upset some conservative leaders: comprehensive immigration reform.
Priebus, acknowledging the tough road ahead for some immigration reform in a divided party, after the speech refused to say whether “comprehensive immigration reform” should include a pathway to citizenship and distanced himself from some of the report's recommendations.
Some Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, are now urging their party to embrace an overhaul of immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, to prevent Democrats from using the issue as a wedge in future elections.
According to the latest US census data, white Americans make up about 63 percent of the US population, but the white share is expected to drop below 50 percent by 2043, when racial and ethnic minorities will collectively become a US majority. Hispanics, the largest minority group, will drive most of the minority growth, due mostly to high birth rates, jumping in share from 17 percent to 26 percent.
In a sign of challenges for the Republican party, a generation of US-born adult children of recent Latino immigrants has moved politically to the left of their parents' generation, according to a recent Pew Research Centre study based on census data and Pew's National Survey of Latinos.
Asian-Americans, meanwhile, are now the fastest growing ethnic group, surpassing Hispanics last year for the first time, according to 2010 census data. Asian-Americans, who lean Democratic, make up only about five percent of the population, but are expected to account for as much as 10 percent of the population by mid-century.
The Republican report also calls for the party to take a harder line with corporations.
“The perception that we're the party of the rich unfortunately continues to grow,” Priebus said.
The report said the party must “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare”.
“We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.” - Sapa-AP