Michael Barone
Rarely does a political party issue a document so scathingly critical of itself and its most recent presidential nominee as the report of the five-member Growth and Opportunity Project of the Republican National Committee.

It refers to Mitt Romney on occasion as "our presidential nominee" and notes disapprovingly of his reference, in the debate about immigration, to "self-deportation."

And while the report states modestly, "We are not a policy committee," it does call for a policy -- "comprehensive immigration reform" -- that many, perhaps most, Republican members of Congress oppose.

I think there's some risk here for the Republican National Committee. But there also may be some reward for Republicans generally.

The risk is of turning off officeholders and voters Republicans need to win elections and prevail on issues. The reward is Republicans might be able to win some elections they'd otherwise lose.

"If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e., self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence," the report says.

"It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our advice."

To this they contrast George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaign refrain: "Family values don't stop at the Rio Grande, and a hungry mother is going to feed her child."

Let me put it another way. To win someone's vote, you need to be friendly to them and those they identify with.

My observation in travel over the years is that Hispanics are treated very differently by Anglos in Texas than in California.

In Texas, white Anglos see people with Hispanic features as fellow Texans. They smile and say howdy.

They know, because they have to take Texas history in high school, that Hispanics have been living in Texas for more than 200 years and that some fought for Texas independence against Mexico.

In California, white Anglos, liberal or conservative, treat people with Hispanic features as landscape workers or parking valet attendants. They look past them without speaking or hand them their car keys.

George W. Bush's words about family values were very Texan, down to the reference to the Rio Grande.

That enabled him to win about 40 percent of Hispanic votes in 2004 (examination of county returns suggests that the exit poll number of 44 percent is a little high).

As for Romney, when he said "self-deportation," he was actually describing something real.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM