At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte in January, members of the so-called “Growth and Opportunity Project” — the group assigned to perform an autopsy on the party’s 2012 losses — insisted that their job was not to set policy for the GOP. Their recommendations, they said, would focus on things like voter outreach, technology, and messaging, and would leave bigger questions of policy to elected leaders.
“We’re not a policy group,” said committee member Ari Fleischer, “and we’re not going to make policy recommendations.”
“On specific issues, that’s not for us to lead on,” said fellow committee member Henry Barbour. “Elected officials and candidates lead on issues, so I don’t see us getting into that…As we listen and we identify issues that have big implications on elections, say immigration reform, obviously we are going to have to address that to some degree, but again, we are not going to set what the policy should be.”
Now the committee’s report is out, and it includes a strong recommendation that Republicans “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform. On that one issue, the committee that was not going to get into policy gets into policy in a big way.
“We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” the report says. “If we do not, our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.”
The committee re-states its pro-reform position several times in the 97-page report. In the end, the group that saw policy as outside the scope of its work made a big exception for comprehensive immigration reform.