Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Bobby Jindal for vice president

By David Frum, CNN Contributor
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Wed May 2, 2012
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions during a tour of areas affected by the 2010 BP oil spill in Blind Bay, Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions during a tour of areas affected by the 2010 BP oil spill in Blind Bay, Louisiana.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • David Frum: Some advocate GOP should run a Latino candidate for VP
  • He says GOP has a problem with Latino voters, but picking Rubio won't change that
  • Frum says Republicans are more likely to gain votes with Bobby Jindal as candidate

Editor's note: David Frum is a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of seven books, including his new first novel, "Patriots."

Washington (CNN) -- Republicans have a Latino problem. Only about 6% of Latino voters agree that the GOP is the party most concerned for their interests. Nearly half choose the Democrats as the party most concerned for them.

Some Republicans are advancing a Latino solution: Nominate a Latino for vice president in 2012. The name most often mentioned is that of Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida.

There's a lot to admire about Rubio. His personal rise from hardscrabble immigrant roots confirms Americans' highest hopes for the country.

David Frum
David Frum

But Republicans make a big mistake if they imagine that the Rubio choice will gain them many Latino votes. Rubio is the wrong answer to the wrong question.

Here's the right question: Why do Latinos tilt so heavily Democratic?

Romney running mate rumors
Jindal: Obama was 'right about us'

Poor people in general tilt Democratic -- and Latinos are more likely than other Americans to be poor.

Under the Census Bureau's newest and most sophisticated measure of poverty, some 28% of Latinos count as poor, a higher proportion than among African-Americans, 25% of whom are poor.

More than one-third of Latino voters fear their home could go into foreclosure. Only 23% of Latinos describe their personal finances as "excellent" or "good," compared to 37% of the total U.S. population.

Of Latinos who are legal residents of the United States, 28% lack health insurance. In the total U.S. population, only 17% lack health insurance.

Is it realistic to imagine that a Spanish-speaker on the national ticket will overcome these hard economic facts?

As glibly as pundits talk about "Hispanic voters," it's important to remember that a majority of American Hispanics identify themselves -- not as "Hispanics" -- but as Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and so on.

Almost two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics are Mexican-Americans. As Rubin Navarette recently pointed out on CNN Opinion, the values and interests of Mexican-Americans do not align naturally with those of Cuban-Americans like Marco Rubio.

"Thanks to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which was enacted in 1966 -- or four years after Rubio's grandfather came to the United States -- Cuban refugees who flee the Island and reach the U.S. shoreline have a clear path to legal residency and eventual citizenship.

Mexican immigrants aren't so fortunate. So when Cuban-Americans do what Rubio has done since arriving in the Senate 16 months ago and take a hard line against illegal immigration, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have been known to cringe. After all, that's easy for them to say."

Under these circumstances, Republicans should be cautious about assuming that they can sway Latino votes with the symbolic politics of a Rubio nomination.

What would work better are policy changes and message changes to win back the 9 points worth of Latino votes that Republicans lost between the elections of 2004 and 2008.

Republicans tend to assume that immigration is the issue that most moves Latino voters. If that assumption was ever true, it is not true now. Latinos were hit hard by the economic crisis that began in 2007. They were promised "hope" by Barack Obama in 2008. Those hopes have been largely disappointed. But what are Republicans offering instead?

And to the extent that symbolic politics can sway votes, Republicans should be looking to groups more receptive to the core Republican message than Mexican-Americans are likely to be.

The Asian-American population is also growing fast, and many Asian groups -- Vietnamese-Americans and Indian-Americans to name only two -- are gaining their success in small business. They are natural targets for Republican recruitment.

In Britain, Australia, and Canada, conservative parties have done well with these immigrant groups. In fact, in the federal election of 2010, Canada's Conservatives won a plurality of the vote among voters who spoke Chinese at home.

For these voters, inclusion does matter. Symbols of inclusion can work.

As symbols go, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is a doozy: a brilliant policy mind with an inspirational life story who has run an effective government in corruption-tainted Louisiana. He can talk data with Romney and credibly sit at the kitchen tables of the struggling middle class.

Which leads to this thought: Bobby Jindal for vice president!

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter and Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Jimmy Carter's message about the need to restore trust in public officials is a vital one, decades after the now 90-year-old he first voiced it
updated 5:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Ford Vox says mistakes and missed opportunities along the line to a diagnosis of Ebola in a Liberian man have put Dallas residents at risk of fatal infection
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Pepper Schwartz says California is trying, but its law requiring step-by-step consent is just not the way hot and heavy sex proceeds on college campuses
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Mike Downey says long-suffering fans, waiting for good playoff news since 1985, finally get something to cheer about
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Steve Israel saysJohn Boehner's Congress and the tea party will be remembered for shutting down government one year ago
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Yep. You read the headline right, says Peter Bergen, writing on the new government that stresses national unity
updated 7:12 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration, says Mike Gonzalez
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT