On Monday, Sal Russo, co-founder of Tea Party Express, the political action committee that sponsored Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, said that his group was considering a nationwide bus tour specifically focused on the Latino community. According to Russo, “[t]he bus tour is the iconic symbol of the Tea Party. When we’ve gone to some states, like Texas, we’ve had good Hispanic participation. We’re trying to do a [national] bus tour that would be more directed that way.”
Russo’s group is also contemplating additional web based outreach to the Latino community. “We want to try to get our email communication and our website in Spanish,” he said. “The Tea Party movement has been successful using social media – emails, Twitter, Facebook. That’s how people found out about us. We have to communicate directly.”
A final decision on whether Tea Party Express will undertake a nationwide bus tour focused on the Latino community has apparently not yet been made.
At the national level, the Republican Party has seen support for its candidates decline within the Latino/Hispanic community over the past decade. In 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney won only 27% of the Hispanic vote, less than the 31% Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) received in 2008. Both are far below the 44% of Hispanics who supported George W. Bush in 2004.
The Tea Party movement, which has always had a tense relationship with the Republican establishment, has a stronger track record of engagement with the Latino community. Two of the most fiscally conservative members of the Senate–Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)–are of Latino (Cuban) descent and won their primary and general elections with strong support from local tea party activists.
Several local tea party groups–especially those California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida–have been organized and are currently headed up by local Latino leaders.