Leader: GOP must increase numbers

National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus addressed New Mexico Republicans in Albuquerque on Saturday, saying that to beat Democrats, the party must increase its numbers without changing its political platform.

His remarks during the state party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner came less than a week after the National Republican Committee released a report recommending the party try to grow its ranks in part by supporting immigration reform efforts and offering more “welcoming” attitudes on issues of gay rights.

Priebus said the party is working to engage minority communities with the “Republican brand.”

“We have to grow through addition and multiplication, that’s the only way we’re going to grow this party, that’s the only way we’re going to win. We have to get back to that,” Priebus told New Mexico Republicans. “… I’m not suggesting changing our platform, but I am suggesting doing what we can to build a family and being unified.”

He said in preparation for the 2016 presidential race, Republicans must shift toward a year-round approach to campaigning rather than waiting until Election Day nears. That approach is needed to match the kind of political infrastructure President Barack Obama created months before his 2012 re-election campaign took off, Priebus said.

“We need to talk to people, we need to get into the community, we need to be granular, we need to do it year-round and we need to fight for what we believe in,” he said.

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Priebus, however, made no mention during his remarks Saturday about how the party can better connect with Hispanic voters in New Mexico or be more welcoming to the gay community, as recommended by the party’s status report released on Monday. Following the event, Priebus declined questions from the Journal and other media outlets.

During the 2012 election, about 20 percent of New Mexico Hispanics cast their vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Other Republicans, including Gov. Susana Martinez and former President George W. Bush, were more successful in winning over New Mexico Hispanic voters as a key component of their statewide victories.

George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told New Mexico Republicans the party can better engage the Hispanic community by embracing Hispanic small business owners and highlighting the economic benefits those entrepreneurs create in their communities.

“Over 10,000 small businesses are run by Latinos here in the state of New Mexico,” Bush said. “… These are entrepreneurs, these are leaders in the community that are like-minded on the political issues of the day.”

About 300 people attended the annual state Republican Party fundraiser that leaders say represents the “launch” of the 2014 election season.
— This article appeared on page A9 of the Albuquerque Journal

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