Interview with Carlos Gutiérrez
JR: Mr. Gutiérrez, thank you for being with us. Why did you lose?
CG: My pleasure. Look, right now it’s common practice, especially among Republican commentators, to blame Mitt Romney, to say it was Mitt Romney, that he was a weak candidate, that we didn’t have the right candidate, that with the right candidate we would have won. I believe Mitt Romney is a great man. I believe Mitt Romney is a great American. I believe that Mitt Romney left all his blood, sweat and tears on the field, as they say. I think the fault lies, and he did make mistakes, Jorge, so I’m sure he accepts that he’s partly responsible, but I think the main fault lies with the Republican Party.
A party that requires that in order to nominate a candidate they have to say outrageous things and move to the extreme right, and later, to compete in the national election they have to move to the center; they’re forcing the candidates to contradict themselves and they’re scaring people. The Republican Party has to change, there has to be a new Republican party, and they must recognize that this nation has changed so much and it will never go back to being what it was, and that the essence of this country in the 21st century is diversity.
JR: And how are you going to win Latinos back?
CG: And that is not--
JR: Secretary Gutiérrez, how are you going to win them back?
CG: What we’re going to do … Hispanic Republicans, Anglo Republicans, Asian Republicans... is try to create a sort of coalition. In other words, it doesn’t have to be something formal. It doesn’t need to have a specific name, but we have to demand, once and for all, comprehensive immigration reform that allows people who are here illegally to have a path towards legalization.
JR: How are you going to convince them? The great majority of Republican members of Congress in Washington are opposed to that.
CG: What we can do is convince through voting, convince through those that have the support, convince by going on shows like this one and speaking out. I’m not the only one who’s talking. There are many Republicans who are tired, Jorge, of defending a party and then having to listen to anti-immigrant rhetoric, xenophobic rhetoric, crazy rhetoric. In short, we’re tired of this already. So what we’re demanding is comprehensive immigration reform that will give undocumented immigrants a path to legalization. How is it going to be done? We’re going to work with the Democrats, but there will be a considerable number of Republicans who will speak up about this issue, which is something that has not been done.
JR: I sense you’re upset with your own party, Mr. Gutiérrez.
CG: Well, of course I am, Jorge, of course I am. Because it’s not the candidate’s fault, it’s the party’s fault, and it’s a party that frightened the American people. It’s a party that has not modernized itself.
JR: But your candidate was in favor of self-deportation, he supported Arizona’s anti-immigration law, he opposed the Dream Act. Didn’t that scare off Latinos?
CG: No, no, but of course it did, of course. What I’m saying, Jorge, is that the process, in other words, the symptom is what Governor Romney said in the primary debates. The disease is the process, the process of having to go to the extreme right in order to be the candidate and then having to move to the center.
That’s the process and that’s why people got frightened. I’m not disputing that. I’m looking toward the future. So we want reform, we want the Dream Act and one more thing we want to discuss with our party is the House bill about English being the official language of this country. Today, people receive a Census form in 13 languages: Korean or whatever it may be so that they can fill it out, because some people reach a certain age without speaking English. What this would do is eliminate that and have only one form in English.
JR: And that’s going to frighten many people. Of course.
CG: I find that obsolete, Jorge, obsolete. What we need to be doing is showing immigrants... JR: Agreed.
CG: ...that they’re welcome, that we want people to speak two languages, that we want to be a part of the 21st century and not be a country from 100 years ago where everyone spoke English and was named Smith. In other words, that is the change we want... JR: Agreed.
CG: ...but that bill, I don’t agree with it, it’s a trap. And Jorge, I’m speaking as a member of the new Republican Party that we’re going to build among everyone who is tired of defending obsolete policies. This is a great party, but if we don’t change, it will disappear in 10 years.
JR: Carlos Gutiérrez, thank you very much for being with us.