I’ve been waiting and waiting for a clash between the Tea Party’s allies in Congress and the movement’s intellectual leaders outside Congress. Rep. Steve King, for example, has been a Tea Party hero, walking arm-locked with the movement since day one. He is also a diehard opponent of immigration reform, which pits him against Tea Partiers like Dick Armey. Today, at a roundtable for conservative members of Congress, King got asked if the GOP needed to move on immigration. He was still a “no.”
“We saw a marginal loss of the Hispanic vote, so people say we can’t build a coalition again unless we make those accommodations,” he said. “We should look at what happened with the conservatives who stay home. What happened with the biggest gender gap in history? What happened with the Ron Paul coalition, and the libertarians?”
King was joined on the panel by Rep. Raul Labrador, a Puerto Rican who represents western Idaho, and who politely disagreed.
“If we continue to get 27 percent of the Hispanic vote for the rest of our lives, we will lose every presidential election,” he said. He didn’t have any particularly new ideas for fixing this, just the usual stuff about how Hispanics were naturally social conservatives and pro-business, so maybe they could be won that way. “But we can’t even reach them with our message if they don’t feel welcome in our party.”