TODAY   |  March 04, 2013

Jeb Bush: GOP needs to appeal to minorities

The former Florida governor talks about his new book, “Immigration Wars,” in which he offers his own prescription for comprehensive immigration reform, and says Republicans need to work harder to appeal to fast-growing minority voters.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> criticize his own party's treatment of immigrants and hispanics in his new book "immigration wars." he offers his new ideas for reform and how the gop can appeal to the fastest growing minority group . along with the co-author of the book, clint bolich. nice to have you back. let's talk about mitt romney , gave his first interview post-election the other day. he talked about some of the reasons he thinks he may have lost. i know minorities, hispanics , those groups played a large role in the election. let's take a look at what he had to say.

>> the weakness that our campaign had, that i had, we weren't effective in taking my message primarily to the minority voters, to hispanic americans , african-americans, other minorities.

>> let's go back to 2004 . your brother won 44% of the hispanic vote. by contrast governor romney won 27%. was it governor romney 's fault or the party's fault?

>> i think both. governor romney put himself in a box in the primary by trying to out conservatives, very good conservative candidates and never really recovered from it. immigration is a gateway issue. it's not the dominant issue for asian-americans and hispanic americans but it's a gateway. if you send the message that you don't want people to be part of your team, they don't join.

>> this is an alarm to your party. you called republicans tone deaf and hostile to immigrants and called the party unwilling to expand the base and warn the republicans face, your word, extinction if they continue to alienate hispanics . this damage that has been caused and inflicted, self or not, something that can be repaired in time for 2016 ?

>> absolutely. it's not just a hispanic problem. romney got even fewer asian votes, absolutely remarkable. basically, republicans have lots in common with immigrants, a desire for entrepreneurship, a desire for educational opportunities, pursuit of the american dream . it has to begin by talking to immigrants and making common cause .

>> when you look at comprehensive immigration reform and look at a guy like senator john mccain , who ran into trouble out in arizona not long ago at a town hall style meeting, constituents were furious with him for his stance on this issue. how do republicans then in the coming years balance the need to expand the base, though at the same time staying true to their conservative tenants?

>> whether it's immigration, tax reform , all these issues we're facing, we can't be reactionary. we have to have a positive, proactive set of policies. and we need to persuade. we need to listen to people and we need to persuade.

>> when it comes to a path to citizenship, you fall short of that.

>> right.

>> you want legal residency and you want people to admit they've committed a crime by coming here illegally to pay taxes, and fines. but you do not want to offer them a path to citizenship. if they do all the things you ask them, why not grant them that right to be an american?

>> our proposal is a proposal that looks forward. and if we want to create an immigration policy that's going to work, we can't continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration. there's a natural friction between our immigrant heritage and the rule of law. this is the right place to be in that sense. not to take away people's rights --

>> the party wants to expand its base, if i'm an illegal immigrant and i look out there at the proposals coming forward and i say, wait shall the president is offering a path to citizenship, i think, in eight years. the team of bipartisan team in the senate looking for a slightly longer timeframe than that. i look at jeb bush and he's saying, no, i don't get a pathway to citizenship. i get legal residency . why do i jump on board with your proposal?

>> half the people who could have gotten amnesty in 1986 didn't apply. many people don't want to be citizens to our country. they want to come here, work here, not necessarily all of them want to become a citizen. that's point number one. point number two, there has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally. it's just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law. if we're not going to apply the law fairly and consistently, then we're going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country .

>> just about a month or so ago, i talked about this group of eight senators that have come up with this bipartisan approach here. it seemed this was an area where there would be compromise and something would get done. now we bring in the sequester and other things. do you truly feel this could be accomplished in the coming years?

>> absolutely. it has to be accomplished. we need an immigration policy that works. our immigration laws are over 60 years old right now. we need high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants. mainly, if for no other reason, to support the number of people who are retiring. we are not growing our own anymore. and so we desperately need an immigration policy that works.

>> clint, governor, nice to have you here.

>> thanks.

>> the book is called "immigration wars."