Negativity in the Republican presidential primaries is part of the process and the party will have to lure back disenchanted voters, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie said Monday.
Gillespie, in an interview on “The Kudlow Report,” addressed the widening gap President Obama held over Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney — not just among all likely voters, but among women too.
In a USA Today/Gallup Poll, Obama led 51 percent to Romney’s 42 percent in a survey of likely voters in swing states. However, women under age 50 support the president 60 percent to Romney’s 30 percent.
“I can understand why a lot of women voters and a lot of men voters may be turned off by the negativity in the Republican party primary,” Gillespie said. “That's the nature of those primaries, but I think when there’s a clear choice between President Obama and his policies and the Republican nominee, who I believe will be Gov. Romney, and his policies, we’ll fix that gap and narrow it.”
Gillespie was the latest high-profile guest on “The Kudlow Report” to predict that Romney would become the Republican candidate to challenge Obama in November, though he did not explicitly endorse the former Massachussetts governor. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas declined to endorse Romney, managing to avoid even the mention of his name.
Among Hispanic voters, support for Romney stood at 14 percent, according to a March poll by Fox News.
“We had a drop off from 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in for President Bush in 2004 to 31 percent for McCain in 2008. That hurt us very badly, not just in the popular vote but in the Electoral College,” Gillespie said. “We really need to work to get the votes of Americans of Hispanic descent.”
Gillespie said that Republicans could lure Latino voters by focusing on economic growth, education reform and “values that a lot of Hispanic voters share with the Republican party.”
Immigration was another issue with room to grow for Republicans, he told host Larry Kudlow.
“Larry, I believe there should be a path to legalization,” he said. “I'm not sure there should be a path to citizenship. I think there are requirements we could put in place for people who have, you know, been law-abiding citizens, have worked in their jobs, have contributed to their communities. But I also think we have to understand if they're here by virtue of having come here illegally and violated our laws, I'm not sure that should be rewarded with citizenship.”
"The Kudlow Report" airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.
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