Probably a good call. Now Republicans say “recortes automáticos” — literally, automatic cuts.
The proper way to say “sequester” — and “debt ceiling,” “border security” and other key phrases — has become a pressing concern for many Republicans, who worry that they are increasingly unable to make their case on the issues to the nation’s fast-growing Latino bloc, simply because they are unable to speak their language.
It’s such a critical concern that House Republican leaders at the beginning of the year ordered an overhaul of their messaging operation, urging members to talk to liberal news outlets and, as often as possible, on Spanish television.
“We’ve been absent from the conversation with Hispanic media for so long, anything can set back that progress we’ve made in the last eight months, so we are aggressive, just like we are in mainstream media,” said Nate Hodson, spokesman for the House Republican Conference, the messaging arm of House GOP lawmakers.
Hodson recalled holding a meeting recently with the conference chairman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and a longtime Spanish-language TV reporter. When it ended, “I said, thanks for coming,” Hodson said. “And [the reporter’s] statement to me was basically, ‘It’s about time.’ ”
GOP leaders also announced last week a “Rising Stars” program to highlight younger conservative activists and politicians. The first wave includes a black state lawmaker from Oklahoma and a Hispanic state lawmaker from New Hampshire. The project is in response to a report issued by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus that explored how the party could attract more Hispanic support after 71 percent of Latino voters backed Obama last year.
The efforts also come at a time when Spanish television is peaking in popularity and fast becoming a rival to the more established networks.
Univision, the nation’s largest Spanish broadcaster, has been more popular than ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC several weeks this summer among viewers ages 18 to 34, a coveted demographic. Overall, 68 percent of Hispanics get at least some of their news in Spanish, less than in previous years but still high, according to a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center. In several of the nation’s largest cities, Univision’s nightly national newscast is more popular than some of its English-language rivals.
The hottest topic on Spanish TV is immigration, but Republicans are hoping that they can appear more frequently on Univision, Telemundo, CNN en Español and Spanish-language radio stations to also discuss budget cuts, health care and the economy — issues that they say can draw new Hispanic support.